One of the things I like to make is art prints so I’m going to give one of them a write-up this week. It’s one of my newer prints as I finished it in September of 2011 and is from a series of prints all with the words “Unchain Your Brain” on them. Yeah, I came up with a theme. Most of my prints are hand drawn and then colored on the computer and this one is no exception. It all started with a small drawing. A lot of small drawings even. That’s what started my “Unchain” series.

One of the problems I’ve had with making my prints is that I integrate both words and pictures and I don’t always have words. Or at least I usually have more pictures than phrases that fit well hanging around. Plus I often draw weird little drawings that don’t bring any words to mind. They’re too far out there for words. I find that for most of my words and pictures prints the words will have a literal link with the pictures or else the pictures are so complex that it’s easy to find links even if they are just coincidence. But with my drawings of weird singular images it’s hard to find words that work. That’s why I decided to go with a series that could have a name and I could use that name on the prints. I chose “Unchain Your Brian” for the rhyme and to make a statement about seeing things differently. Or at least looking at things that are different.

It took me a while to settle on “Unchain”. I resisted it because I thought it might be too much like ad ad slogan for my taste. It still might be but it was the best I could come up with. I then set about thinking up the format I would use for the series. I knew I wanted something simple but simple is usually very complex to achieve. I’m not sure which font I went with but it might have been “Impact” or something like it. That’s a fairly common font that is simple and bold. If it is “Impact” then I stretched it and changed a couple of the letters. Or I could have just used a similar font. I can’t remember. Either way I decided to cut the letters out of a black bar. The background color of the print forms the letters on top and a ghosted version of the foreground art forms the letters on the bottom. This is the format I came up with. That and the two links of chain on either side of “Unchain”. I remember struggling with how many links to have and if I should put them on “Your Brain” too. Eventually I decided to go minimal.

This image is just the weird kind that fits well with “Unchain”. I mean, what is it? It’s obviously a person/creature of some kind but of what type I don’t know. Is he wearing a helmet or is that his face? The blue eyes are blank with no pupils and the smile seems painted on so that makes me lean towards “Helmet”. But I don’t know for sure. The flat bottom says “Helmet” but then I’m not sure if the flat top of the neck is a shirt collar or not. Since the shirt is the same color as the neck and ears then maybe it’s not a shirt at all but his skin. That might lead me to “Head” more than “Helmet” but I’m still not positive. And is that some sort of flower pot on his head? That’s what I mean by a strange drawing. It invites questions us to what it is. I’m not terribly interested in definitive answers to the questions either. I like to ponder them. That’s what the whole “Unchain Your Brain” series is about. Let’s ponder.

I haven’t made a whole lot of prints over the last couple of years because I’ve grown bored with coloring on the computer. I find it tedious and would rather use paints, markers, and inks than pixels. I’ve tried different techniques over the years to try and make computer coloring a little more interesting for me to do and this is one of those different techniques. First off there is a lot of texture to the color. There a little specs of dark color throughout the foreground of the piece and that is not part of my usual technique. This is also a subtractive technique. Instead of adding color to make things darker I cover the whole thing in a mid tone and then take away some of it to make it lighter. Overall it giver it a slightly modeled look that’s soft and inviting. Though a nice change from my usual computer coloring it really didn’t make things any less tedious to do but I like the results.

The background in this one is very simple but that’s up my alley. Once again I’m not sure exactly what it is. The purple curved shape could be a mountain behind him or a whole planet rising up above the horizon. There is a heavy texture to it that I probably made with a few different Photoshop filters. I’d guess I started with the “Add Noise” filter. A lot of recipes for Photoshop textures start with the “Add Noise” filter.

As I write this I’m looking at an 11×17 inch physical print I made of this on my Canon printer and I have to say that the printer does an exceptional job with the blue of the sky. It really looks nice. That blue might be my favorite part of the print. It does nothing but sit back and be the sky while looking good. It’s actually the sky and the word “Unchained” so maybe that’s what I’m liking about it. It sits back and stands up to be read at the same time. The bottom “Your Brain” part is much less striking as it is filled with the much more complex background image.

This is “Unchain Your Brain #3” by the way. Since my prints are usually named by what the words say in them this series had to be numbered. That’s always more confusing than names but I guess I’ll just have to live with it.