Personal painting – recycling (Rift #2.2)

After taking yesterday’s multi-layered piece almost to breaking point and assuming I’d finished, I couldn’t help but take another run at it today. This time I had green screen in mind from the start.

First, I gave it a wash layer of burnt sienna to dampen the green pigment.

Then I took prints of several of my photos relating to sheep in fields and located close to the original. Fortuitously, some of these benefited from a blast of yellow from the printer cartridge making them very bright green indeed. These I cut into strips to paste onto the support, first in a kind of horizontal bar code, then in fractured lines (back to the rift), and finally with a focus on the left half of the image because by then I had my total image in mind, likely driven by my audio book, Red Mars (starts out well, gets very blokey).

The idea that Mars was Earth-like in its distant past is what guides current research to find evidence of microbes, and I’ve written in past posts about the possibility of Jezero crater, the site of NASA’s Perseverance landing, having once been a huge lake.

This time, rather than speculating specifically on Mars’s past, I’m projecting Earth’s future if we don’t get our act together. The reasons for Mars becoming barren are very different from the reasons life on earth might become extinct, but the end result could be effectively the same – a ruined, uninhabitable planet.

So here I have pasted in the bright green strips of earth which will, once painted around, be visible as if through cracks in the Martian landscape which I am in the process of painting from a variety of photos via NASA. Once activated under the chroma key, I’m hoping to show glimpses of what we might lose if we fail to change our ways.

It’s interesting that writing about ambitions for a piece lead to new thinking about it. ‘Visible through cracks’ means the strips as they are need to be roughened around the edges to become more like fissures and less like constructed windows.

Or maybe that could become a jarring juxtaposition. Looking at the image onscreen, they might be bill boards designed to attract a population whose whole world has been red and rocky and invite them to take their holidays here.

One thing I absolutely must not do though, is over work it, and at this distance I can see I have boulders, escarpments, horizons, clefts, and sand that have form and substance I wasn’t able to see from the other end of my paint brush. I think the thing to do now, and the only thing to do now, is tidy up the edges of the ‘bill boards’ then see how it works under green screen keying.

I had masking tape around the edges of this painting, luckily less for tidiness than containment because I like the effect of the collaged pieces encroaching on the borders. The barrel shape is due to being unable to find the right angle to take the photo and I’ll clean that up before using it in the film.

I’m actually quite astonished at how this works – to my eye anyway – as a standalone painting with those strong colour contrasts and that deep discontinuity down the centre line. If I follow the holiday for the video, that opens up several possibilities, some of which show the best of us, some the worst, and I’m wondering how many film overlay tracks I can apply.

Edge cloning in Paintshop Pro. This is for the painting as a physical piece, the video will use an image that has no margins.

This didn’t translate quite as I’d wanted because the bright green is too patchy to make an adequate green screen. I’d almost begun tracing over the green areas to paint bright green when I realised there was an easier way – Rebelle5.

This is painted onto a separate layer over the crop used for the video. The original is untouched.

21st April and we’re onto version #3. Taking the Rebelle edited painting for greenscreen, I’ve used PhotoMirage to make the implosive animation, and Filmora Pro to layer this with the overlay video by Aric Shelby via Pexels, and audio from Epidemic Sounds.

Title: The chances of anything coming from Mars

The title comes from War of the Worlds and played into ideas of Mars having been much like earth at one point such that current Martians might be considering taking holidays on earth, hence the bright green billboards. The final scene, as it were, is the projected loss of that option for them and for us if we don’t change our ways. The rift is in expectations, the point where deliberate delusionary thinking meets the reality of those consequences. Cheery little number!

This is a crop from the painting, colour adjusted and animated in MotionLeap for iOS. There’s no audio.

What I’ve learned here is how to paint for the painting primarily but with greenscreen in mind, and that I can edit the image digitally to create reliable greenscreen areas. Less of a learning point, more of a penny-drop was making and importing an animation made with the greenscreen edit in another app to use as the primary video. I have several of these apps, many of them cross-compatible, and so the permutations could be extensive.

Pexels is a superb resource with a great deal of royalty free material. There is the option of making a donation to the maker of anything you use and I make a point of doing that. These remote collaborations enhance my work so it’s only right that I enhance their pockets.

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