Artist: Anthony Vodraska
Inspiration: The impressions of a day are often blended into memories like precious found objects that I hold in the pocket of my mind to rediscover and caress over and over. Last Fall, Anita and I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa with Bill Lieb, a sculptor, to visit the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the sculpture garden at the American Republic Insurance building. It was a day full of impressions that I return to often during quiet moments. Only recently, I have started to tap them for visual inspiration. Fortunately, I took many pictures.
The piece entitled "Cognition" is the first in a series of new work that have at their core a homage to sculpture. Sculpture can stimulate creative flourishes in the viewer that travel down paths that even the sculptor could not have foreseen. I photographed elements of the sculpture that resonated with me on that day and allowed time for those images to blend in my own mind before sitting down to work with them. When I finally brought them into a creative tool, new relationships emerged with surprising metaphorical and symbolic meanings. I imagined a visual representation of my higher self looking down on my embodied mind - cognitive structures connected yet floating over a surface of pulsating brain activity awash in waves of emotion and desire. The experience of contemplating, manipulating and blending the source images allowed my deeper concerns and interests to find expression.
Process: The source images for this work started with these three images:
The selective image of the Pomodoro sculpture represented the elements of drives, instincts and sensory systems while the Regier sculpture reflected higher cognitive structures of thought and control systems. The image of a reflection of a tree in an office building window took on the appearance of neural dendrites in a medium of pulsating energy.
All of the compositing, transforming blending, masking, coloring, and editing of the images was done in a Photoshop CS3 environment. Two great resources that I have relied on in the past to build my skills are books by Katrin Eismann,Photoshop Masking & Compositing, and Susan Ruddick Bloom,Digital Collage and Painting. But when I am in the creative mode, though, I like to work with what I know rather than loose the thread of my inspiration while developing new skills.
I develop a dialogue with my creative tools in which each movement of my stylus over the Wacom Intuos tablet is like following a path that can lead to new possibilities or dead ends. Adjusting blending modes, opacity, levels, hues, and saturation on many llayers can leave me filling lost down the rabbit hole at times. Using test prints, I further calibrate the color and observe how my eyes flow over the surface image and settle in one area or another. Depending how this enhances or detracts from the visual experience, I further edit those areas.