Desert Sun Mandala - © Sue O'Kieffe 2008
source image - escobaria cactus
When I go out into the world with my camera, I love getting up close to nature, feeling the energy of the plants and reveling in their colors.
Last week at the local Farmers' Market, I took a photograph of this cactus, which I think, after a quick Googling, must be a variety of escobaria.
I was attracted to the spikiness of the plant and knew that it was a force to be reckoned with. Is it any surprise that feng shui practitioners recommend having cactus outside the house as a form of protection, but not to put it inside unless you want to keep people away? I imagined all those porcupine-like spikes would transform themselves into amazing geometric forms.
Yup. But I just was not satisfied with the background. One of the things I am focusing on right now in my art is experimenting with different ways of creating more interesting backgrounds without overwhelming the mandala imagesthemselves.
One thing I love about digital art is being able to reuse certain design elements over and over again. I have lots of handmade paper that I scanned onto my hard drive just for this purpose.
First iteration. Old antique paper from India. I liked the color and the texture, but wasn't happy with the lack of contrast between image and background.
Second iteration. Again, still not quite right but closer.
I love playing with blending modes. It is, for me, the primary feature in PhotoshopI use to make my images painterly. When I selected Screen mode for both of the paper layers (see layer palette), all of the unwanted dark features of both paper layers lightened up, leaving a blend of the two layers of paper while removing the texture and darker colors in the onion paper layer. (Antique Paper layer >Blending Mode: Screen>Opacit :54%, Onionskin Paper layer> Blending Mode: Screen>Opacity: 100%)
Adding a black frame around the image as I described in this tutorial.
I love the way this mandala came together. Earthy. Bright. Sunny. Desert-y. I think the cactus would be happy with my portrayal of its many gifts.
I hope you enjoy experimenting with Blending Modes. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions, either via email or in comments.