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Thursday, September 1, 2016



This was the subject at the last demonstration evening. Caroline Rackham is a Totton Town Councillor and a Community Arts Officer working in the south-west Hampshire and east Dorset area. Her latest project was the New Forest Arts festival in June. Currently she is working on the Totton Lantern Procession.

Previously she worked at the Media Workshop in Southampton and it was at this time that Digital Art started as a major art form and became an important way of working in the Community Art field. Caroline showed us the different genres of Digital Art and the work of different artists before showing us how she had used it in community projects. In the second half she showed her own method of working on a subject. 

Firstly she dealt with using an ipad or computer.

Artists who work in this way are Liz Hall and David Hockney. The image can be drawn and "painted " with a stylus using an app (many free) on an ipad or program such as Paint which comes as part of the Windows operating system used in most computers. It can be accessed via "All Programs" and then "Windows Accessories" showing as a small square displaying a palette. Another program which can be used is Photoshop or its far cheaper version Elements which is just as versatile.

By painting a vase of flowers on a table using Paint, Caroline was able to show us how to use the airbrush tool (the longer the line is held the thicker it becomes) and the paint pot to obtain and change colour as well as the common tools. Very complicated pictures can be produced in this way.

She then went on to show us examples of Photographic manipulation. This type of work is popular with the Neo-Surrealist group of artists.  Photographs can be montaged, twisted, inverted, reversed etc. The best effects are produced using similar colours and tones.

Caroline then spoke of the place of Digital Art in Community Art as exemplified by projects she has done with various groups. A favourite with children is a diary project where each takes pictures over a weekend and they are then combined to produce one art work.  Other projects included responding to music or robots in a pond controlled by text messages! In all cases an image is produced digitally which can be combined with others or over written with prose.

The scanner is a very useful tool particularly so in making  murals. These can be seen  in such places as Romsey railway station, the entrance to the flats at Weston and in many schools and community buildings. Groups often work to a theme e.g. sari fabric, oral history and memories of a place and what it will be like in the future. Old photographs or paintings are often combined with new ones e.g. of a street or area. In the case of Romsey, children from all the schools were asked to imagine being on a train journey. Drawings, paintings and objects such as carpet tiles were all scanned, manipulated and turned into a mural of separate tiles which were then produced and put onto the station wall.

After the tea-break Caroline first showed us some of her own work which included a Welsh landscape, a dahlia and a passionflower. She then showed us how to produce a beautiful image based on a Crocosmia photograph. Firstly the background was removed and converted to plain white. The flower colour changed to blue and the flower copied and re-sized and added to the original. The whole was then refined using various tools and brushes until finally a shadow was formed by manipulating the brightness. The shadow was blurred using Gaussian Blur.

Digital art is without doubt a very creative art form allowing us to use the full extent of our imagination. It can be used to produce a unique work of art or as a basis for further work This was a fascinating evening and we much appreciate the time and effort Caroline put into it. One member suggested it should have been titled "Caroline's Magic Show"

After thanking everyone Caroline then announced that she was giving her fee for the evening to the Totton Lantern Procession funds and suggested that we as a group could have a lantern making session and even take part in it with our lanterns! Hopefully we will be able to do this and support the Procession.   
Vase of Flowers
Caroline at the computer

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