Picket & Cherry

Altered photo of cherry tree in yard.

The ubiquitous picket fence strikes again!

I seem to be on a bit of a mess-with-your-image binge these days. I’m entirely unclear on why this is especially appealing to me at the moment, but I hope that those of you who count on SB for the clean, clear photograph will bear with me while I indulge these impulses.

Some of it is simple skill-envy. I’m a crappy draughtsman and if you want a big muddy puddle on the page, just give me access to a watercolor set. Never fear: nothing I ever do with software is going to come near the genius of people who actually can draw and use finicky, difficult real-life media. This falls into the category of pure wannabe and probably deserves the label of kitsch.

Still, there’s something about this altered image that I must confess I like. My intuition tells me it’s worth trying to find out what that is. Perhaps I can get there another way.

I felt prompted to take the photograph in the first place by the unruly tree and the gap-toothed fence; my iPhone was handy. The picture needed cropping and some tweaks, so I went with Instagram and then shared it via Twitter. Here’s the Instagram version:

Later, when I saw it larger on my computer at home, it just felt like way too much drama. I wanted to lighten it up, suggest more than insist. I wanted an illustration, not a record. I needed the flourish of the glorious tree and the static rectitude of its urban context to be in delicate balance. After a flurry of softwarage, I got closer to what I had in mind.

I think that good art is co-extensive with its raison d’être. It feels inevitable, right. It needs no excuses—of course it had to be made. The thing needed to be seen as it is presented and not some other way. That integrity, that unity of means and substance, is both tremendously powerful and hard to come by.

A Year Ago: Gesture

Palm tendrils.Like the dance of gnats in a streetlamp…
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