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  • Exploring new techniques: Translucence

    When I first became aware of fractals, in the Fall of 1996, I was immediately intrigued and began exploring everything I could find about them on the internet. I downloaded FractInt, the best fractal generation software of that time, and learned a bit about how to use it, but my computer was really too slow to do much creating myself. I was hooked, though, and whilst I wasn't making many fractals myself, I avidly read the newsgroups, followed the discussions on fractal-oriented mailing lists, and studied every image in every fractal gallery I could find on the internet. I found myself analyzing what I did and didn't like about each image as well as what quality caused a particular image to stand out in comparison to others. 

    Even though I was very much a newbie, I entered three images in the FractInt community's 1997 fractal art contest, and much to my surprise, two were selected in the top 10. (Maybe one of mine was in the top three? I've forgotten, and the online archive is no longer available.) 

    It wasn't until the Spring of 1998 that I actually had the right hardware to seriously begin my own fractal exploration, and my journey as a fractal artist with the Ultra Fractal  software began in earnest. In the Fall that year, there was another fractal art contest (this time open to other fractal software), and again, my three entries did very well and were selected among the winners in several categories. 

    How was it, I wondered, that I, who knew comparatively little about fractals, was creating such popular images? My background was artistic, but in music and dance, not in visual art. I have never been able to draw, paint, sculpt, or create anything interesting using traditional visual art techniques. How was I suddenly creating images that others deemed artistic? What I eventually realized was that those 18 months I spent just looking at others' images had really developed my taste and critical eye for the visual art elements of composition, color, texture, etc. I found most pleasing. The preferences I began developing then have influenced every image I've created since.

    Fast forward 25 years to a period of time beginning about 8 months ago. I've been involved recently in moving across country, changing my life direction, re-vamping this website, and transitioning into a major new phase of my life. I've not created many new images recently, but my desire to look at others' art has bubbled up and I've been curating an idea board of more than 500 visual art images that inspire me in some way. Most are photographs and paintings, and I find myself, once again, studying each to figure out what makes each captivate me so that I can take those ideas back into the fractal workshop, develop new techniques, and apply them to my evolving style. 

    I've collected more ideas than I've yet had time to explore, but at the top of the list are: the bokeh effects in photography, the textural interest of collage, and the softness and translucence and layering of watercolor painting. Translating each into a comparable fractal technique is going to be challenging, but that's a lot of the fun ahead. My most recent image, Adieuxa, is my first successful attempt at reproducing some diaphanous watercolor techniques:


    Category: Disquisitions