"Temple of the Torn" and the perils of water-art

I completely hate creating art that incorporates water.

Well, not exactly hate, but it’s a right bitch. That and snow, they are, in my opinion, the hardest things to work with when it comes to photo-illustration. With water there’s so much to take into consideration; reflections, how the water interacts with objects, splashes. Everything needs thought out, and creating art with various stock images is difficult because you have to try and blend all those elements seamlessly together.

But it’s something I want to do more of. Over the past 12 or so years I’ve only created water art a handful of times because I know I suck at it. But that’s all about to change. From thIS moment on I will endeavour to master this technique and get better at it.

Which brings me to my latest piece “Temple of the Torn.” Over the weekend I began a new photo-illustration. I had the idea of using one of my Grey Abbey stock images and using Elandria once more. I also wanted to play around with water. Whilst I hate using water in my work I can’t deny that the final result, when done right, is stunning. Within the image I wanted the ruins to be flooding, so I wanted a good depth of water, but I also wanted to show the source of the flood, the waterfalls over the window ledges.

flood tagged.jpg

Now having a search through my usual stock providers turned up nothing I could use. So if you want a job done properly… get your mum to stand on a chair and pour water out of a bucket.

So after taping a few bin bags to the garage for the backdrop we were a-go. Many refills later and I had a collection of images I felt I could use in this piece.

A collection of some of the stock images I used for this piece.

The next issue was the splash. I had sourced the main body of water Elandria would be standing in, but with the waterfalls hitting that water I needed to create the reaction between the two. So I found a few splash brushes and used them, shaded them etc. then I added some low lying mist for added atmosphere.

I also wanted to further show the overgrown nature of the location, so I used some ivy in the foreground, I was in two minds whether to keep it in the image because I didn’t want to obscure all the hard work I had done with the water, but in the end I had to think of the overall image and not just my ego. So the ivy won.

Then came the fun part. The painting. This is always where my images come to life. Before this crucial stage my images are flat, they still look good, but there’s just something missing. The painting adds highlights and focal points and also solidifies the object in the image. So I painted Elandria’s hair so that it didn’t look “cut-out” from its original background. Then I went through the image and painted the light. I painted light on the hair, the clothes, the face and the water and I feel this really draws the viewer in and creates a mystical/fantastical quality.

Even though I detest working with water, I’m glad I did it, and I will also try and do it more often. I love water IRL so I shouldn’t let the difficulties prohibit me from using it more in my art!

And with winter just around the corner, you will no doubt be reading a similar blog about how much I effing hate working with snow.