How to Make a North East Campfire | Process Explained

Earlier this fall I had some break throughs with my artwork, I got into the flow and created several new works. And of course, the first thing I did was show my art-teacher sister and soon to be art-teacher brother-in-law for their feedback. They are my artistic sound boards. I was working on some imagery that I actually took while I was with them – back in the summer of 2013 when we drove from San Diego across middle earth America, home to Massachusetts. Over the past year I have been mixing landscapes with some portraits I have taken of the beautiful women that come into my life (my Pretty Young Thing, Women Americana Series).

In every piece of artwork, one must first start at the drawing board, but in my case – the blank photoshop canvas. I wanted to make some work that reflected the warmth of the time; the temperatures and colors of summer slowly slipping out.

First, I came up with this gem:
Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 11.01.00 PM
But it felt too busy, I was working in some mountains from Utah and two portraits I had taken from a cramped bathroom in Somerville, of my friend Grace (Dali, the best decor ever). I started moving towards highlighting the portraiture features – which lead me here:
Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 11.02.52 PM
I got rid of the mountain and threw in a photo I had just taken on Labor day of my friend’s family compound (very new england esque, bistro lights strung across the yard, camp fires, egg toss, the works). And it started to reflect the feelings of nostalgia I was going for. But alas, it still wasn’t right…. then I started to play around with the contrasts/brightness factors as well as erasing certain portions of each layer of the photographs, and my final piece was born – drum roll puh-lease.

Introducing, PYT Woman Americana – North East Campfire

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 4.42.25 PM
The lighting is a subtle difference from the image above, it was exactly what I was looking for. Although there are only three examples I posted, I had many different versions of the same photo in the works. Some people look at Photoshop as a cheating tool – I look at it as my primary medium. Like I said earlier, we all start off with a blank canvas – mine just happens to be on a screen! 

(Please note, all imagery use in this post is subject to Copyright, all works belong to artist Cory Shea, 2015)

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