Be grateful for the good problems/Art Nouveau Cyborg

This post is dedicated to my dishwasher, which has decided that it’s going to run continuously without actually washing or rinsing dishes. That’s what I call a “good” problem. It’s annoying but fixable. In the meantime, I have soap and a sponge and I can wash dishes by hand.

It’s so much better than having the furnace or the clothes washer break. I really don’t want to burn books or furniture to keep the house warm, and I don’t have a river handy so I can go beat my clothes clean on a rock.

Broken dishwasher. Good problem.

Also, as it happens, broken sewing machine = good problem. That chip I replaced has done wonders; my Bernina thinks it’s brand new now. I wish I’d made the repair sooner. However, that’s hindsight. When you have deadlines to meet, you tell yourself that it’s better to have a machine that sort of works part of the time than a machine that doesn’t work at all. It feels scary to jam a soldering iron up your machine’s delicate parts and risk breaking it even more.

Now, of course, I can slap myself on the back and chortle “Hey! It worked out fine!” But I didn’t know that at the time.

Today I sent this off to be printed on fabric. I’d been holding off on some projects because of the sewing machine issue, but now that seems to be resolved.

Its working title is Art Nouveau Cyborg, although Art Nouveau Android would be more accurate. I need a better title, something which highlights the fact that the only living thing, in some sense the only “real” thing in the picture, is the hummingbird.

This piece harks back to Art Nouveau, which is a style inspired by natural forms and structures, such as the curved lines of plants and flowers. (Paraphrasing/ripping off the Wikipedia entry on Art Nouveau.) However, my subject matter is quite the opposite of natural, an artificial creature against a background of circuitry. I thought the contrast would be interesting.

The composition is  a blatant ripoff of inspired by the works of Alphonse Mucha, particularly his use of ornate circular frames.

Image provided by Art Renewal Center Museum, image 4417, Public Domain

This piece, Dance, was a particularly helpful reference.

As the lines in green show, I traced right over key portions of Mucha’s composition in order to come up with the layout for my own. I used circuit lines as design embellishments rather than butterflies and flowers, but the arrangement of the background is substantially the same.

The foreground figure is a purchased model, Pix-Synx, whose geometry was created by Pixeluna. I posed and rendered her in a 3D program.

Here she is, rendered and ready to layer in with the rest of the elements of the design.

I fiddled around with several poses before arriving at one that seemed decent.

This pose reminded me of something I saw at the Louvre the week before last, only not as classy.

Mmm. No. I’m not trying to make android porn.

This just worked for me somehow. There was something a little awkward and innocent about it, and when I introduced a focal point, the hummingbird, the picture began to come together.

Ah, that hummingbird. I think I bought the geometry for this thing for about $1 on sale. It’s posable, and it’s one of my favorite models.

Since I’m working in 3D, I can change the texture on objects. I seriously considered making the hummingbird out of chrome or brushed metal. I really liked the way it looked and the way it popped against the background. Unfortunately, having a metal bird would change the message of the picture, which is about the hummingbird being the only natural thing there.

This is the texture I ended up using. Not my favorite, but it contrasted with the background nicely.

When I began drafting the picture, I had no idea what kind of background texture to use. This is one of my false starts, tread plate. I think I made this with Filter Forge. Have I mentioned before how much I love Filter Forge? Yeah. Only about a thousand times.

Here’s another Filter Forge-generated texture. For a brief instant in time, I thought about giving the picture a steampunk flavor.

How about a nice steampunk porthole? (Also created in Filter Forge) That would automatically create the circles one sees in a Mucha composition.

Filter Forge gears. Yeah, no. Interesting but too cluttered.

In the end I referred to photos of blue circuit boards. I sampled dark and light hues from a photo, made a cloud texture in Photoshop, then motion blurred it to create these streaks. That gave it a nice subtle texture.

All the circuit board ornamentation in the picture is made with Photoshop brushes, the Cyber Circuit Brushes by Orestes Graphics. I applied them in separate layers, tinkering with opacity to emphasize or deemphasize them. It’s a delicate balancing act. If the circuit designs have too much contrast, they’ll fight with the foreground for attention and the whole picture will look cluttered. However, if they lack contrast or they’re too dark, they’ll fade away during printing.

Now I wait and see what comes back from the printer. It’s always a surprise, and it always changes some more after I sew on it.

 

One Response to “Be grateful for the good problems/Art Nouveau Cyborg”

  1. Sue Kaufman says:

    This is a wonderfully interesting piece of art. Well thought out and articulated, and well executed. I enjoyed reading about it’s creation. Looking forward to how you quilt it. Please post in QA again about it? Thanks so much for sharing, Tanya!

    Sue Kaufman
    Drums PA

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