Tag Archives: art

Only So Much To Say

Only So Much To Say - Richard Smith - rsmithings.com

Stream becomes portal. Tree becomes a mountain range. Leaf becomes Dalí’s mustache. Best viewed at full size.

This is a photomontage I created about a year ago, practically forgot about, then came back to appreciate more completely only later thanks to Pinterest. I remember it taking not very long to compose, and having all the elements come together serendipitously, which, for me, is my favorite manner. This one appears more abstract from a distance, so it doesn’t have the instant recognizabilitly, and therefore sudden popularity, of many of my other pieces — but the reward is there for those with an eye and desire for detail. The abstractedness gives way to a surrealist blending of natural scenes and forms, offering a rich level of intricacy not immediately apparent in a smaller view — which is just the way so much of our digital art world is at first blush on Instagram or many other image sharing destinations. And that’s the inspiration for the title: in the smaller format, there is only so much to say, just a limited amount, for a fleeting few seconds… while further exploration reveals so much more. Check out the originals at Flickr.

Originals at FlickrWhat do you think? Have you ever created something you thought was OK at the time only to come back later with a different appreciation? Do you regularly revisit art or music you’ve experienced in the past and come away with a new interpretation? Let us hear from you in the comments.

New Works: Surrealism From Nature

Until We Meet Again Come view the most recent works added to the RSMITHINGS.com portfolio of surreal photomontage creations. Three new pieces have just been added: “Until We Meet Again” (above), “Transitional,” and “Be The Butterfly” (below, respectively). Each came about only in the last few weeks or months, and rides along a theme of nature and mystery, incorporating elements from my local area. Links to source files also illustrate the creation process in these pieces. “Be The Butterfly” is even available for purchase for a limited time through Fine Art International. Transitional Be The Butterfly


What do you think? Have you created any art lately? Ever thought about selling your artwork? Have you ever discovered a favorite new artist online? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Surreal Photomontage Creations from The Everyday

In Spatium (Appear In The Distance)

Check out the latest additions to the RSMITHINGS.com portfolio of surreal photomontage creations. Three new works have just been added: “In Spatium” (pictured here), “Divination,” and “Only So Much To Learn.” Each uses elements from my recent travels, neighborhood snapshots, and otherwise ordinary objects or scenes. My site also features the source images that comprise the final creations.

What do you think? Do you create visual art on a regular basis? Are you a fan of surrealism? Who are your favorite visual artists? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Fluster Magazine Features My Artwork!

Fluster

Fluster Magazine is an Italian-based publication covering art and artists worldwide. In this showcase with a very in-depth interview, they ask many insightful questions about creativity and my process. Fluster is a cultural creative project about personal expression, culture, reportage and recreation from the readers’ different perspectives through dedicated galleries and headings produced by the editors. The magazine is published both in English and Italian. I would consider this the definitive interview to date about my technique and thoughts on the surrealist photomontage medium. Interviewer Marinos Tsagkarakis asked some insightful questions, and I’m hugely grateful to have been featured. Here’s the article, with a few links interspersed to related rsmithing.com content:

Richard Smith explores unexpected interrelationships between everyday images through surrealist photomontage. Working with elements from nature, pedestrian objects, specially-commissioned photos, and scenes from his travels and neighborhood, he fuses these components into ethereal yet cohesive views that transcend their origins. A self-taught graphic artist with 20+ years of professional experience, Smith incorporates assimilated photographic techniques and modern photomanipulation approaches into his hand-crafted compositions at rsmithings.com.

Interviewed by Marinos Tsagkarakis
Up With The Sun - rsmithing

Hi Richard or do you prefer “rsmithing”? Really, what are the roots of nickname “rsmithing” that you chose to use as an artist?

Hello, and thanks for asking — just call me Richard. The “rsmithing” term is my quick online handle, giving some more personalization to my otherwise very standard name. It originated way back when Google rolled out Gmail. By the time I got on board, “rsmith” was already taken, so I added “-ing” as a concise means of personalization. In a metaphorical sense, I like to think of it as the verb form of my name, representing action. It also works for “Richard + Smith + Blogging = rsmithing,” which is my blog (rsmithing.com) and “Richard + Smith + Things = rsmithings” which is where I showcase my art (rsmithings.com). This is the most I’ve ever revealed in one place about the rsmithing handle!

Tree In A Moth - rsmithing

Richard, how did you come to photography and graphic art?

I’ve always loved art, and I remember getting a thrill from when my mom would post my drawings on the refrigerator. Come puberty, I discover rock ‘n’ roll and take up music, and I also get into producing flyers. Little did I know I was teaching myself graphic design. Finally in college, it all comes together at the university newspaper when I discovered Aldus Pagemaker — the digital way of doing what I’d been creating by hand with photocopiers and cutouts from newspapers. From there, I decided on a career in graphic design, and it’s been great. Along the way I continued making music and writing, but graphic art — and more so these days, photography, is the passion that sets me on fire.

The Aha Moment - rsmithing

Please, tell us more about the special technique you have developed for the composition of your images.

My technique is this: I constantly snap photos of whatever’s around that I find interesting. Once the urge to create strikes, I then start a synthesizing journey. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed; other times I’m just along for the ride, letting magic from the universe do the driving. 

My process is like carving a sculpture, with the edges of my fingers forming lines to define shapes and reveal serendipitous relationships — not unlike physically placing individual elements as in a paper collage — except I do this through masking, blending and mimicking established photographic techniques like solarization or vignetting. Each piece is meticulously crafted with these and other ingredients, using direct touch to form a hierarchy of narrative. A final composition is the culmination of fusing disparate elements into a kind of empyreal abstract union.

From a technical point of view, I mainly use a now-extinct app called PhotoForge2 on my iPhone, which functions much like Photoshop with layers and masking, only in what I see as a more personal manner. With a smartphone app, your fingers become the brushes; your movements become the brush strokes, and you literally cradle a creation as it comes into existence. Far from being impersonal through a degree of technology, I believe art created this way is extremely intimate. The end result taken in by viewers is something the artist has stared at, in hand, literally touching over and over as the elements come into place.

Star Power - rsmithing

Your images are constructed in many different levels, composed from multiple images. What is the visual message that you want to pass to the people who see your work?

I want people who see my work to understand that beauty is everywhere and that we should take time to notice it. Art surrounds us, whether in architecture, words, music, or just in nature. And having an appreciation for that can make life more meaningful. Through surrealist juxtaposition and taking artistic license with the limits of visual reality, I aim to slow down viewers’ processes of perception enough so that a “wow” moment can happen. Maybe I do that at first with something that’s just visually striking on an initial level, but then layers of meaning can emerge and previously unexplored connections can form. That’s really the most exciting thing for me about any art — experiencing meaning through new connections.

Reverse Ghosts Afloat - rsmithing

Do you prefer to create color or B&W images and why so?

I prefer creating and viewing black and white images. While there’s nothing wrong with color and I greatly respect many artists who use a full range of hues, for me working strictly in black and white is part of distilling intent and message down to the essence. Also, blending stuff happens faster when there are just two colors. =)

Reflection Two States - rsmithing

Richard, how long have you been practiced on this special technique?

I’ve incorporated collage and photomontage in my professional (non-artist-day-job) work for at least a decade now. Much as I do these days for personal expression, I would work montages into advertising materials wherever the fit was right for the client and project. But I’ve been in love with surrealism and, specifically, the photomontage format ever since I was a teenager.

Oneness - rsmithing

Are there any other special process/composition techniques that you have practiced, too?

Sometimes I experiment with rules. Working within a set of restrictions can be oddly liberating and extremely satisfying. What can you do in only one hour? What can you do only with photographs from this weekend? What can be done with photos only from one certain location? I’ve often thought, “why do anything if you can do everything?” So the idea of working within limitations and then pushing myself to do all I can in those paramaters is a process I enjoy and recommend.

On The Verge Of Something Of Course - rsmithing

Are there any specific photographers or artists who have inspired your work?

I owe everything to Jerry Uelsmann. He is the undisputed master of photomontage and my ultimate inspiration. I’ve even done some recreations of his work in my format just to grow my understanding of his vision. I always want to acknowledge Uelsmann wherever possible since his work has been such an inspiration. If anyone reading this likes my work, I recommend immediately seeking out Jerry Uelsmann. It was a mind-blowing experience when I first saw his creations, and hopefully others will have that experience as well.
My direct visual inspirations also include fine artists such as Dalí and Escher; photographers Man Ray, Francesca Woodman, and Minor White; along with contemporary creators like Sion Fullana and Tommy Ingberg.

Momentary II - rsmithing

As I know, you are a musician, too. You play guitar and sang. Do you think that your relationship with music has influenced your work on photography and how is that?

Most definitely, music influences my art. It’s as obvious as the occasional song title or lyric being adapted as a title of one of my visual compositions. Personally, I feel creativity comes from one area in the soul, and it manifests itself in different ways — be that visual art, writing, music, dance… or whatever captures your passion. I loved art before music as a child; I loved music before writing as an adolescent; I loved writing along with art and music as a young adult; and I’ve managed to make a living as a creative person as an artist and writer who also plays music for fun. Inspiration and expression can come from anywhere — you just have to be open to the experience and do what you can to get it out there.

Let Love In - rsmithing

A common characteristic of your images is accuracy and symmetry. We could say that this is mainly a special characteristic of European photographers and artists and that American schools of art are more liberal. As a man who has grown in an American thinking environment, how do you explain that?

Having a formal understanding of graphic design is now in my DNA, so I naturally consider grids, the rule of thirds, white space, contrast, and other traditional elements in my compositions. I employ elements of symmetry and accuracy in my own art as one more way of drawing a viewer in. The human eye generally seeks to understand and organize information, so things like balance and detail help make this happen — part of what I do is to establish this foundation, then take the mind’s eye even deeper through subtle deviation. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time in Rome, Florence and Paris, and have a deep reverence for the masters, so maybe that figures in my art at a subconscious level. I would sure like to think so.

Find What You Love - rsmithing

Do you thing that your images as a work of art, are closer to photography, painting, graphic design or something else?

It all starts with photography, but I certainly don’t consider or bill myself a photographer at all. I have a sense of what makes a good photo or interesting subject, but I’m always thinking in terms of ingredients for photomontages. It’s certainly not graphic design, since that implies a more formal structure than what my pieces have, and also implies missing elements like typography, lines, or mainstream commercial appeal.

My images are closer to painting or even sculpture, since forming the compositions is such a physical act of moving things into place, bending reality into new shapes.

Dream Catcher - rsmithing

If you had the possibility -only for one day- to photograph one famous person, one object and one place in order to compose an image, what would you choose?

My famous person choice would be Dalí just so we could hang out. Or maybe Jimi Hendrix for the same reason, and to see him play with my own eyes in the same room. An ultimate object photograph for me would be Stonehenge, right up close, really taking in the textures and incredible angles from inside and around the rocks. If I could compose an image in one place, anywhere? That’s easy: Hawaii. It’s paradise.

(Images © Richard Smith)

More about Richard Smith’s work here

My Art Website: RSMITHINGS.com

So I have this new website for my photomontage artwork: RSMITHINGS.com (Richard + Smith + things = rsmithings). I assign it full blame for the lack of regular postings around here lately. But that’s OK, since I’m my own boss as far as this blog goes. I called a departmental meeting, and we worked it all out.

RSMITHINGS.com - Ephemeral Surrealism PhotomontageBut seriously, check out my art project. If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen fit to subscribe to this blog for some weird reason, and I truly value your perspective. I produce these artworks in my spare time using images from my everyday surroundings, travels, and specially-commissioned photos.

My Super-official Artist Statement:

My process is like carving a sculpture, with the edges of my fingers forming lines to define shapes and reveal serendipitous relationships — not unlike physically placing individual elements as in a paper collage — except I do this through masking, blending and mimicking established photographic techniques like solarization or vignetting. Each piece is meticulously crafted with these and other ingredients, using direct touch to form a hierarchy of narrative. A final composition is the culmination of fusing disparate elements into a kind of empyrean abstract union.

Wow! Fancy, huh?

The hardest thing to do for the site was to write a decent statement like that. The rest of the content I was able to assemble in my spare time in just a few weeks, populating it with pieces I’ve created over the last couple of years, and I’m still adding to the portfolio.

Some Recent Creations:

RSMITHINGS - Portfolio

It’s been a thrill for me to get all this in one place,
and I do hope you enjoy it.

What do you think? Ever created or been featured on an art website? Are you interested In surrealism? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Photo Synthesis – Jerry Uelsmann Review

Jerry Uelsmann: Photo SynthesisPhoto Synthesis by Jerry Uelsmann

This is a great introduction to the world of Uelsmann’s photo magic. I saw this book 20 years ago in a creative writing class, of all places, and made the effort some years later (after Amazon.com was invented) to seek it out and am glad I did. Looking back on my career and life since then, I can say unequivocally that it changed my thinking and helped set me on a creative path I’m still having fun exploring.

I copied & pasted this review via Goodreads.com, a site I’m only now getting into, since – although I love good writing – I’m always hard-pressed to find works that I can really sink my teeth into. How fitting that my first review there is for a book of photography… but whatever. It really is a fantastic collection, and if you’re at all interested in perusing some mind-blowing images, I highly recommend it.

What do you think? Are you on Goodreads? How do you find the next book you’d like to read? Let us hear from you in the comments.

KISS in M.I.A. Sample

Matangi & KISS’ Heaven’s On Fire on New Album

Listen to the first 5 seconds of both of these songs…

“Matangi” by M.I.A., 2013

“Heaven’s On Fire” by KISS, 1984

Cool, huh? Share this on Twitter!

What do you think? Ever recognized a sample? Are you a KISS or M.I.A. fan? Let us hear from you in the comments.