© 2 0 1 6 A R T H U R P A X T O N
Paxton Pigment Prints
Process & Purpose
I make images that are emotionally resonant and structurally satisfying. While each image begins as an original photograph, through digital manipulation, the photo becomes gradually more abstract, as certain areas blend together and new lines gain prominance. It intrigues me to advance the process as long as relationships between the elements of an image maintain a tension and balance. While many fine photographers use the computer to collage different images, my technique often involves combining altered versions of a single image. I might crop off part of the original photo, rotate, resize, stretch or otherwise alter it and then recombine that with the larger image. The altered section may bear no resemblance to the original photo, but the various elements of the final layered image are organically related. “Time Squared” is such an image: all of it comes from the same source photograph as “Times Square ”. My fascination with the interplay of unity and variety may relate to my background in music and my appreciation for composers who, like Beethoven, can build a symphony from a brief musical motive.
My techniques frequently soften or blend sections of an image at the same time hard new lines are created. It has occurred to me that my years of uncorrected nearsightedness led me to see a melding of distant colors, even as I retained great close-up acuity. I like to view paintings up close, and foods as well. (My family no longer asks “what's wrong” at the dinner table: when I peer over my glasses to scrutinize a forked morsel – they know I just like looking closely.) While my eyes may scan a painting for barely exposed layers and insight into the history of its creation, there is no mistaking the instant first-glance gut-appeal of a gripping work. A personal goal is art that works on different dimensions: across-the-room/up-close, emotional/structural, and representational/transformed.
Transforming images that begin as recognizable people or places is a voyage of discovery – a way to probe my senses and especially my sensibility. (When does the process naturally end - when is the image ready to print?) One early attraction of manipulating photos and printing on watercolor paper is freedom from the smooth continuity of a photograph. Breaking up a photo's smooth surface - fracturing and smudging the digital image creates a kind of intrigue that engages the viewer's imagination and personal history. Sometimes the image's new surface suggests brushstrokes or poured unblended pigments. I have recently used a technique that turns a hum-drum practical PhotoShop tool into a means of visual exploration. Something simple and limited leads to limitless possibilities. If manipulation goes too far, the image disintegrates, loosing continuity and character. I like taking it to the edge, but many viewers prefer the recognizable scene, a transformation closer to external reality.
Though my prints are made with archival inks on flat paper, I delight in the effect of dimensionality. A luminous three-dimensional quality seems to be a by-product of bold forms and sonorous printing. I am recently reminded that there is an element of play in transforming a photo into something I particularly want to share, but that making a print that fully satisfies me often requires a dogged application of analysis and will power.
Paxton Pigment Prints
Art Paxton’s luminous and evocative images
are available as limited edition pigment prints on archival watercolor paper. Pigment based inks, known for their exceptional stability and longevity are used
watercolor papers chosen for their ability to capture and hold fine detail and