New Digital Portraits (Photoshop Layers as a Metaphor For Life)

Recently I’ve been experimenting with some new painting techniques in Photoshop. Well, new to me anyway. Historically, I’ve been more of an artistic compositor and collage-maker when it comes to Photoshop, so this kind of painterly portraiture is pretty new for me. I have to admit though, I am totally hooked.

These are not simply images run through a few paint filters or actions. I’m putting my Huion graphics tablet through its paces for sure. I hand place each stroke, changing up brushes, sizes, colors, blending and a million other settings as I go. Layers and layers for days.

I love layers. I use a ton of them in my Photoshop work. Plus, they’re kind of a metaphor for life, right? All these tiny little things, these little minor adjustments and tweaks on the fly that make up the bigger picture. A little splatter here. A little grunge there. A little positive exposure (see what I did there?) or stroke of luck. You can’t have light without contrasting shadows and that sort of thing.

The thing about layers is that if you don’t manage them as you go, they can quickly become a nightmare to juggle and you wind up losing time (= money), repeating the same things over and over. That is to say, TCB and sort your business today, not someday.

The best part of layers though is that they all add up to be a bigger picture; one more richly textured, with more depth and gorgeous, subtle complexity. The best artists and designers and Generally Functional People (jury is still out on me) are able to quickly adapt and incorporate unexpected stuff, even without an “undo” command.

And such is life. Defined by a few major pre-planned strokes of the brush and lots of what our friend Bob Ross would call “happy little accidents”….



Lucky for me, Photoshop does have an undo command though. Which I employ frequently.  If only there there was a Ctrl+Alt+Z for life. Until then, I’ll have to be content with working in Photoshop and playing Life is Strange on Xbox.

I’m cool with that.

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