Some folks can sit down and look at a subject, put pencil to paper, and draw an amazing likeness. Others can set paint to canvas and create a work of art that intrigues or inspires the onlooker.
I am not one of those people.
I’m not sure how it happened. My brother, although I never saw him officially paint or draw, demonstrated considerable doodling skills. My oldest sister has lovely handwriting and the next two, in their day, created respectable canvases.
As for me, even a stickman is a challenge.
Perhaps that’s why I compensate with a camera. It doesn’t require any great manual dexterity to push a shutter button, clumsy as my fingers might be. But all cameras can do is record the world as it is. Right?
Well, mostly right. In this era of digital photography, the picture is only half the trip. Digital editors, filters, special effects programs – what you see is not necessarily what you get.
On a recent excursion, I took a simple picture of some tulips.
Not bad, but what could a painter do with it? Certainly something more abstract, or “artistic”. Since I can’t draw or paint worth a damn, what can I do?
Call in a virtual painter.
I subscribe to a site called ShareWareOnSale, which on a daily basis sends an email offering free and deeply discounted software. Nine times out of ten I’m not interested, but every now and then a temporary offer for a free photo editing tool comes along. These offers are frequently for older versions of software that the makers provide in the hope that you’ll get sucked in and buy the upgraded version. Most of the time, the older version works just fine. I’ve acquired a lot of free software via this channel, including a couple of programs that allow painterly modifications on digital photographs.
(Click on any image for a slide gallery)
These conversions were made with a program called Style, made by Hunter in the Woods. It appears a license can be had for $10, and it runs on Mac or Windows.
And if that wasn’t enough…
These came from a program/plug in called Filter Forge. The featured image also came from that program. This application has a silly number of different filters that can be applied to pictures to create different effects, I only looked for those that helped me create the virtual painting style. The latest standard version is $250, so my older free version was a real bargain.
So despite not having a lick of talent for painting, and without getting so much as a smudge of paint on my fingers, clothes, or anything else in the vicinity given my less than impressive manual dexterity, I’ve ended up with some cool painting like images. Does that make me an artist, at least virtually?