abstract leaves

City Leaves (Liquify filter)

Pre-computer days I had plenty of room in my apartment to set up an easel and paint abstracts on large canvasses. But as my computer and photography gear ballooned in size (my new printer is as big — and as heavy — as a refrigerator) my painting space dwindled into a paltry patch. I’ve always loved painting abstracts and I missed it, so I recently dived into Photoshop and Gimp’s graphic filters to experiment with transforming photographs into abstract images.

On canvas, I  usually start with an idea. On computers, it was now a photograph. From there, the two processes — creating abstract images with paints or digital filters – turned out to be very similar. It was take-off time and Improvisation was the name of the game as I expanded, altered and subtracted elements taking form on the screen.

Digital Abstract

Coral Geometric (Mosaic Filter)

So far I’ve experimented with the map, cubist, liquify, accent edges, mosaic and pixelate filters. Hugely powerful, they can alter photographs in endless ways, so knowing when to cut off the fireworks and stop the transformation is a big challenge. Sometimes pushing too far leads to an exciting, unexpected result and sometimes to “spaghetti” which is what one of my art teachers used to call a visual mess.

However, one of the nicest things about creating abstracts with digital filters is that good old delete button. It can instantly and forever dispatch any mess of spaghetti to the trash.


More Digital Filter Experimentation: