It's Valentine's Day, a testimony to love and devotion...to new beginnings and old celebrations. Did you know that it was named after a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century? Who knew? This post celebrates the origins of this ancient Roman holiday Lupercalia. Clearly, we can't exactly revisit eras of centuries past....But we CAN have fun reinventing the artist's vision.
I have long had a fascination with statues where, hidden behind a facade of limestone, is a tale to be told. What was the sculptor looking at as he chiseled their features onto the slab of grey and weathered stone? This particular sculpture, created by Federico Gaetano Villa and dating to 1876, is titled "Venus Blindfolded by Cupid". It is nestled in the Camellia Gardens of the scenic Huntington Library and Gardens. Her grandeur is silhouetted by foliage framing this gorgeous depiction of a cherub playfully blindfolding the goddess Venus.
No surprise, I have a hugely explosive imagination.
So what was Mr. Villa gazing at as he brought his image to 3-D life? This image, a tribute to love, is one worth sharing on this Valentine's day.
But enough of the romantic musings....Let's explore the technical aspects of this endeavor. I photographed this piece with my Canon 5DMKIII. Fortunately, the day was overcast, reducing the extreme highlights and shadows that a sunny day can create. In order to keep the coloring of the piece as historically accurate as possible, I like to use the color tones of an painting. Using my color picker tool in photoshop, I select the tones I want to "paint" onto the statue. I create a palette of colors on a separate layer. Applying a frequency separation technique onto the image, I add an extra layer above the color layer and digitally paint the skin color and fabric tones, carefully mixing the pixels in such a way as to give me an illustrative look. When I am relatively satisfied, create a new image in photoshop and extract the statue from her surroundings, imagining what her surroundings could have looked like. (I warned you that I had a very active imagination!) In this case, I introduced the mandolin, the dog, and other elements to complete the final composition.
And this is why I love to digitally manipulate an image! I am an artist.
This is the second statue I composition I that I transformed into a two dimensional piece of digital art. It was done for purely personal reasons, and as a personal challenge, wanting to explore the depth of my digital artistry and the width of my imagination. I hope you enjoy the piece as much as I do.
Whether you are exploring the museum, the remarkable grounds or the haunting statues, I encourage you to visit (or better, join) the Huntington Library and Gardens. They are truly beautiful. Enjoy!