Highlight Mark-Making Potential with Photo Editing

Just when I thought I had reached a détente with my family regarding my over-dependence on my smart phone, I started getting into Instagram.

vintage pans mark making inspiration
Vintage pans, a la Instagram, highlight the potential
for mark-making inspiration.

Now, more than ever when out and about, you will find me shooting fences, and buildings, and people, and objects up close and at odd angles, then altering them in the app and posting. My teen is particularly embarrassed that her mom is being “all hipster with the Instagram thing,” even though she admires my handiwork.

I hope it goes without saying that I do not fancy myself a hipster. But I do like to be creative, and I find that photos help me record mark-making inspiration. Apps that allow me to quickly alter the photo to highlight lines and shapes that could be converted into art via brush strokes, marking pens, stitching, etc. make the experience more immediate and fun.

Of course, bringing out the mark-making potential of objects seen with the naked eye or through a camera lens can be done in a low-tech sketchbook or with high-tech photo-editing software on your computer, respectively. The important thing is to get those mark-making ideas down as quickly as possible so you don’t forget.

Also, sometimes you don’t see how interesting the marks are until you alter your perception of what you’re looking at through editing. For example, this photo I took of three vintage pans I planned to sell online looked fairly mundane when I first took it. But while I’d enjoyed the patterns on the pans for years on shelf in my kitchen, I only saw their potential as art inspiration when I applied a black-and-white filter in Instragram.

The pans sold almost immediately, but now I can keep enjoying them in this artistic image, plus use the patterns to inspire stamps, creative lettering, Zen doodles, needlework, and more.

My current favorite book on the subject is Mark Making: Fresh Inspiration for Quilt and Fiber Artists by Helen Parrott. Don’t let the fiber art aspect dissuade you if stitch isn’t your thing. Mark Making contains a wealth of information on discovering marks to use in your art, the importance of keeping journals, and how to translate sketched ideas or found images (or photos) into art.

P.S. Do you use Instagram? Why or why not? Discuss below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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