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Computing and Art
Talk by Claire Harrison, 28 November 2008

Visit her at www.claire-harrison.co.uk or see her work "in the flesh" at her
Farnham Maltings exhibition of large canvases (3 December 2008 to 14 January 2009)
Claire enjoyed drawing and watercolour even as a child and devoted herself to art against the advice of her tutors at school and Surrey Inst. of Art & Design University College.

She has driven herself by committing to exhibitions before she had produced the artwork.

Lacking a studio when she left university she developed an interest in photography. Early on she realised that even unmodified photo's, like these trees, can produce interesting effects.

Her photography, computer and painting feed off each other: a good SLR camera, huge prints and high-resolution scanning; a USB microscop (x100, x200) so that different scales of image can be produced - but still producing paintings (in real paint) inspired by the photographs
  She soon wanted to manipulate her photos and started using Photoshop to produce multi-layer colour-modified prints like the one here.

Prints from the computer must be prepared with as high a resolution as possible (digital cameras are barely up to it yet - a 20 MegaPixel camera is expensive). Paper quality and ink-permanence are also vital. To maintain their value, pictures produced through a computer may be sold in very limited editions.

The two photo's below, both based, as usual, on her wish to use natural objects to produce pseudo-abstract images, were part of a "guessing game" - what were the original photos?
Right: Sweet pepper (insides and out)
Below: Avenue of trees and orange pith
. . . and here are the original orange-pith photo and another "pith and tree" picture. Each photo can be made to contribute to many different final pictures.
- The sweet pepper print might have inspired Claire to paint this one

The influence of fractals can be seen in this sequence which gradually led to the final painting. . . . although there was some use of stencils, all are actually paintings.
- -
Surprisingly, so are both of these, below. The blue one below is based on flora at different scales but gives an impression of swans. Inspired by the layering capability of the computer it was painted using multiple glazes, separated by layers of tissue. This "sunflower" is built of various scales and colours of a stylised magnolia bud (it has a partner which continues in the blue end of the spectrum).

Stencils were not used, each bud being individually painted by eye.
Altogether a most interesting evening.
Conclusions?
Artists have always used tools. The camera, the computer and the paintbrush are just modern examples of these tools and can complement each other.
Nature and academic achievements (e.g. fractals) can provide source material for quite abstract-looking work. 

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