“How despicably have I acted!
Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind.
But vanity, not love, has been my folly.
Pleased by the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other…
I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away.
Till this moment, I never knew myself.”
~ Pride and Prejudice, Chap. 35
In the last several weeks, I’ve been mulling over things too personal to disclose in a blog…. involving priorities, obligations, necessities, dreams, fulfillment, acceptance, and contentment.
I’m a stubborn pupil, clinging to my fantasies and refusing to learn that life isn’t a taxi ride: you can’t simply tell the driver where you’d like to go. Not every circumstance will be ideal, not every dream will be realized, some talents will be wasted, and sometimes we sacrifice more than we get in return.
The dreamer in me is filing for a divorce, citing irreconcilable differences with my brain.
So what does one do in these situations? I dug out my copy of Jane Austen’s Complete Novels, and took solace in the misery of fictional people. The chapter following Darcy’s proposal, where Elizabeth receives his letter and realizes how greatly and utterly she has been deceived…. resonated with my own feelings of disenchantment.
Her internal struggle produced such strong visual imagery, I felt compelled to create a piece of art to reflect both her pain and mine.
“Gazing Upon Pemberley” has been a perennial favorite among my customers, and as that piece is nearly two years old, I knew everyone was patiently waiting for a new Regency photomanipulation.
Tentatively titled “Darcy’s Confession” and previously “Darcy’s Letter” – although I’m also partial to the line: “Til This Moment I Never Knew Myself” as an alternate title, I can say that it’s quickly becoming my favorite piece.
It came to life thanks to the exquisite stock photography of GothicBohemianStock (aka Kate), who lives in UK ~ surrounded by the breathtaking ruins and historic buildings as Gothic romances and Austen fairy-tales are made of.
She spent an afternoon photographing the grounds at Houghton House in Bedfordshire, which is open to the public (and free!).
Oh, to live in England! *sigh*
I’ve been madly in love with Kate’s style since I first stumbled upon her stock photos on Deviantart, and this series of Houghton House is no exception. She has a trained eye for the dynamics of light and shadow, interesting architecture, and finding the perfect angle.
Taken from inside a darkened doorway after a rain shower, bathed in a deep golden glow with its dirt roads intersecting at a tree-lined drive… this image sparks daydreams of strolling the lane with Mr Darcy, and discovering changes of heart.
I bookmarked this photo, knowing I’d use it someday… and the muddy crossroads seemed to perfectly reflect Elizabeth’s emotional state of mind upon reading his confessional letter; she was stepping out from under the canopy of deception and shadows of flattery, into the harsh reality and light of Darcy’s innocence.
Okay… I’m done composing cheesy metaphors.
Although her photo was nearly perfect, I decided to add a different sky, one filled with dark storm clouds and just a hint of sunlight. Since the roads were muddy and covered in puddles, it would appear as if Elizabeth had been caught in a rain shower, and sought refuge under the doorway to read Darcy’s letter while waiting for the storm to pass.
I had actually planned to incorporate rain into the scene, thinking it would be dynamic for Lizzy to rush out distractedly into the storm, so distraught over the revelations in his letter.
I kept postponing the raindrops until last, while considering how to create them realistically… and once the picture was 90% complete, I realized that rain would be too much of an overstatement.
I rather liked the subtle suggestion of rain instead.
For Elizabeth herself, once again I dug into my own resources of Regency stock photos taken by my husband, at Hagerstown’s City Park in April of 2008.
You’ll immediately recognize this dress! ROFL!
It’s the same basic gown I wore in both photomanipulated pieces ~ “The Letter” (from 2008) and “Pemberley” (2009)…. in fact, both of those images were taken during that same trip to the park.
Unfortunately I haven’t yet acquired a large wardrobe of Regency garments, jackets, etc…although I plan to buy some patterns (someday)… for now, I must take advantage of Photoshop to alter my dress.
Since the bare trees would suggest late autumn, I painted over the dress with a burgundy color lifted from the red brick walls of Houghton House. I also added long sleeves.
For a shawl, I’ve manipulated an orange drapery photo from Lockstock, another awesome Deviantart member who generally provides beautiful costumed model stock.
I’ve flipped the shadowed side to the left, erased the long tails, stretched and pulled at it with the Distortion Tool until it appeared to be wrapped around my arms….
I made the fabric semi-transparent, and changed its bold color to a muted tan.
A few more tweaks, such as adding shadows under my feet, removing a visitors’ information board from the grounds, and erasing a car from the distant background (which wasn’t visible until I zoomed in 400%… but I KNEW it was there, so it had to go!) I finished the piece with a slight texture from a tea-stain colored bit of canvas… adding to the moodiness of the image.
My instincts told me when I was done – it was one of those rare occurrences when I didn’t give into temptation to add a few more details (i.e. like the rain, or birds, or a rainbow)…
I rushed upstairs to my studio, anxious to make some test prints!
They came out beautifully, although I had to tweak the color profiles a bit, because my first print came out a bit over-saturated.
My original image file measures 16″x20″ at 300 dpi, and I plan to purchase some larger papers soon so that I can sell 16×20 prints in my Etsy shop.
I’m also using Darcy’s Letter as my desktop wallpaper….
And just because I’m feeling in an unusually generous mood this morning, I’ve created FREE downloadable wallpapers in standard sizes for your personal use:
- Click here for 1280×1024 (right click to save image)
- Click here for 1024×768 (right click to save image)
I’m crossing my fingers that sampling my art on your desktop will entice you to purchase a large print for your wall, or give a greeting card to your best friend!
Creating a new Regency photo collage was a pleasant vacation away from anthropomorphic cat artwork… but now I need to get my furry butt back into the studio and work on Nutcracker Ballet Cat Christmas ornaments, and continue my feline Pride and Prejudice portraits (which are taking me longer to finish than the novel took to write!)
It’s always humbling (and often amusing) to check my blog stats, which admittedly don’t get checked as frequently as they should… I tend to rant and rave with little regard for whether or not anyone is listening.
In fact, I was beginning to grow complacent in the solitude… like the liberation one feels after moving to the country, miles away from civilization, unable to even see or hear one’s neighbors!
As if the entire world was your own – just you and nature – so you strip off your clothes, running naked through the field and singing to yourself.
Uninhibited and free! Rolling in the buttercups… La-de-dah …La la la….
Until the UPS truck pulls into the gravel driveway…
…with a belated Christmas package from your mother; one that requires your signature, because she’s obsessed with lost packages.
And you realize, with equal parts horror and sadness, that you aren’t alone on the planet after all. *blush*
Thanks to Google and a few followers, my solitary ramblings are occasionally chanced upon (usually in awkward moments)… such as when I’m having a bad hair month week: my experience using homemade shampoo bars has been my top-viewed blog post to date!
Other high-ranking posts included my infamous Question of Ethics, and Twitter’s humorous take on Super Bowl Madness.
Ranked 5th on the list of Top Posts, and one that Google tends to favor with daily traffic, is my Anti-Tutorial for Photoshop. Despite the thousands upon thousands of PS tutorials running wild and mating out there in cyberspace, people can’t seem to get enough of them!
I spend a fair chunk of time using Photoshop… more time than I ought, considering I’ve changed my artistic direction in favor of traditional acrylics. But PS will always be my guilty pleasure – a chance to reinvent my world into something altogether surreal and magical.
Last weekend, Joe and I were both fascinated by this ginormously, tall birdhouse at Carolyn’s farm. (This image wasn’t Photoshopped… it really is leaning!)
He captured a dozen really cool shots of birds in flight, making trips to and from the house…. as I scrolled through the nearly identical images, it occurred to me: these photographs would look even better if we incorporated more birds!
I decided to use these two:
• I decided my background image would be the photo on the left. I cropped out some of the excess to frame it better, which downsized it from an image measuring 10″ x 6″, to an image measuring 6″ x 8″ (at 300 dpi).
• I used the Spot Healing tool to remove some dust orbs, and stray marks which came from the camera lens. Probably cat fur, LOL
• Next, I adjusted the lighting with Levels. There is an excellent article here on the blog – Cambridge In Colour, that discusses Levels in-depth, if you’re interested in using the tool properly.
I just play around with the white, grey, and black sliders until I like what I see.
Now it’s time for the birds!