Today Art by Tori joins forces Waxing Lyrical, a blog by my friend, Ann. I will be sharing my art with her and her blog on a monthly basis and I hope to be able to share the process of how I create the pieces right here in my new Behind the Scenes section.

Month One is a photographic offering where the original picture is unpromising and needs a lot of work in Photoshop to bring out the potential I saw through my camera lens.

I took this rather unassuming picture in a car park somewhere in the Lake District in 2008.

As you can see it’s far from striking. My motivation for taking the photo in the first place was the beauty and form of the individual flowers. Most of the time, when I look back over photographs I’ve taken a picture like this gets overlooked, there’s so little that can be brought out of it at first glance. But, when you have a delicate and perfectly formed example of nature such as this you almost feel compelled to try to make something of the photo.

My first act, as with all photographs straight from the camera, is to adjust the light levels, bringing out the whiteness of the petals. I chose not to alter the colour balance as I was happy with the way the picture had come up with very little adjustment. After altering just a few things the image is already more vibrant and there is much more depth than in the original.

My next task is to take away the background vegetation, including that unsightly bramble that is a dead giveaway that I’m working in the wild, and bring out the flowers to dominate the image. I wanted to reduce the greens to shadow and draw out the highlights until they almost shine.

As you can see, most of the green is gone, leaving just the stalks and buds of the flowers visible. Instantly this rather drab, rather boring picture becomes all about those split-petal beauties. Of course, it is still far from being a finished image that would be considered artistic. It needs a bit of manipulation to enhance it further.

What I do now is to carefully cut around the central flower that was the focus of the picture right from the beginning. The one that displays best the form of the fully opened bud. When I have separated this part of the picture I enlarge it to make it stand out even more. This is the Zing. With the central flower nestled amongst it’s siblings it doesn’t make the picture sing, but bring it up just a few percent larger and postion it right and suddenly we have poetry.

I have dulled the background here to show the flower in its larger format, it looks like it is reaching up out of the plant trying to get your attention. It becomes the focus of the picture, the other flowers are the backing singers, completing the picture but not stealing the limelight from the star.

To finish the picture I crop it into a square, framing the image to look as good as possible. I then play with the background, removing flowers that add to the finished image by their absence. A few more corrections here and there and it is exactly as I saw it in my mind’s eye in 2008 when I aimed my camera at the little plant in the car park.

To see the finished article visit the Waxing Lyrical Art by Tori post here.


Yep, I’ve got a Photoshop-esque app on my phone and am determined to master it. Even though it gives me hand cramp.

So, here’s my first offering… Swans

I have been stricken down with a cold the like I’ve not experienced since the winter of whenever-it-was-I-last-got-a-bad-cold, I’ve spent more time in bed feeling sorry for myself the last two weeks than I care to imagine. I don’t usually do ill, I like to work out, do things like yoga and cardio that help keep the immune system working quite adequately. Unfortunately I damaged my ankle back in the summer and my doctor has forbidden me to do anything more than gentle exercise until February. This is not music to my ears. I have been endeavouring to do as much tai chi as my ankle can take and fit in the kind of yoga that doesn’t involve my legs (it doesn’t leave much) but apparently it isn’t enough. And here I am, sickly and sniffling.

But, I can stay away from my laptop no longer, and as such I find myself in the mood to blog and share a bit of a creation with you.

This brings me, not so neatly, to the subject today, unfinished business. My art pads and hard drives are littered with half-baked ideas, pictures abandoned half-way through and masterpieces never quite mastered. My offering is one such creation lovingly laboured over until something new and shiny took my attentions and guided them elsewhere.

When I was planning the design of my fancy new living room last summer I was in the mood to have a large painting hanging above my television to give some interest when the box was off. A project was in the infant stages that I was concocting with a chum who had introduced me to the rather brilliant joy of watching The Invisible Man, the ill-fated series from 2000 staring Vincent Ventresca and Paul-Ben Victor. Our project was to make something to celebrate the show and our love for it. My idea (being a painter by trade it seemed like a logical choice) was to do a painting, and a big one at that.

But what to paint? How about lead character Darien Fawkes half invisible, with yet more of him turning silver thanks to the quicksilver gland in his head that gave him his particular skill? Or maybe Darien with red eyes thanks to quicksilver madness – if you don’t know what I’m on about look up the show and see what you’ve missed. What about Darien and Bobby the show’s heroes in a suitably heroic pose? I ended up just looking at pictures, watching endless episodes searching for inspiration. What I found was a moody picture of Ventresca from his I-Man days and the idea struck, my huge painting would be of Darien looking moodily out the canvas with his eyes hinting at the madness within. Somewhere along the line my picture lost the madness in the eyes and became a black and white portrait of Darien, the only colour being his brown irises because, damnit, it was too good a picture to ruin by splashing red all over it. After all, without context he just looked downright strange with red eyes.

I spent two months, on and off, recreating the picture on my computer, drawing every shadow and line in intricate detail so when it was enlarged it wouldn’t be a blurry mess. Then one day I had my new living room and the telly was there and I was sat staring at the wall and realising just how big this painting was going to end up. I suddenly found great interest in some new project that simply had to have my attention.

I never did finish the preparations for the painting, Darien is half-drawn. In truth I got so close to finishing that I have just his neck and part of his arm to finish. How close I was! But, that was just the beginning, two plus months of computer work was just the beginning, how many months would it take to paint the damn thing? Too many I fear since I don’t have anywhere to keep such a huge canvas. So, poor Darien got shelved and I have no picture over my telly.

How could I leave the story at this point without sharing the picture at least in part with you. And that is what I intend to do. Maybe one day it will be finished and I will do something with it, maybe a smaller canvas will be ordered? My favourite part of the drawing is the eyes, and of course, they’re the most important part of an image that is all about that particular part of the face. So I will share with you one of the eyes, the original image I took it from and the result of my laborious time spent with my Wacom’s pen.

During Wimbledon 2006 I spent my two weeks of tennis overindulgence designing and painting a 24″x24″ picture for my bedroom. It turned out that this fortnight was blisteringly hot, and my acrylic paints were a nightmare to use as the heat made them sticky and prone to drying far too quickly.

This is the original drawing for the painting, well, I tweaked it a little as there are a few things about the original original that I’m not too keen on. That’s why I love computers so much, you can tinker to your heart’s content and no one has to know. Unless you tell them, of course.

As an artist I am often overwhelmed by the need to create something, be it beautiful or weird or purely self-satisfying. Whatever it is that comes bubbling up to the surface every now and then demands to be given life. I have these things secreted all over the place, some of them are on the hard drive of my laptops, some are tucked away in various drawers and boxes in my house, others are still trapped in my mind waiting for the moment to pop out and get given a new home.

It is my intention to store some of my bubblings right here so people can enjoy (or despise) them as much as I do. And, with any luck, get a better idea of the kind of artist I am and the sort of work I do.