Insights and ideas from Barbara Braman
Fresh eyes; new tools
Some people might communicate about their worlds in words; Barbara Braman expresses her world in various art forms, from drawing to photography. As a professional artist, she is influenced by everything from the many places she’s lived and traveled to the technology she uses on a daily basis. She currently lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but travels frequently, especially to London. Wherever Braman goes, she takes advantage of the power and mobility of Adobe® Photoshop® Touch, the new tablet app that helps her combine, edit, and adjust images and easily share the results with friends and family from wherever she is in the world. Here, she talks about how Photoshop Touch has propelled her artistic visions and changed the quality and tenor of her work.
Photoshop.com: Which piece of equipment couldn’t you live without and why?
Barbara Braman: Just one—seriously? I’m currently very attached to Photoshop Touch, and for that reason, I can’t live without my iPad. The great thing about Photoshop Touch is that everything is mobile—so I can start playing and experimenting on the spot wherever inspiration strikes without having to go back to my desktop computer and studio. Then, I use the Adobe Creative Cloud™ service to save my tablet creations and open them later in Photoshop for color correction or other fine-tuning. I also love all my cameras—the one built in to my iPhone, my Canon PowerShot G12, my Nikon D90, and my new waterproof Olympus TG-1. I loved translating the water imagery in Photoshop Touch.
Photoshop.com: How has traveling to so many places influenced you artistically?
Barbara Braman: Every place has its own light and color palette. Here in the Cape, the indescribable variety of shades of green and blue are everywhere. There are watercolors and happy, lighter colors. In London, everything is beautiful but slightly more formal: grey-blue, red, black, and yellow. And the light is very different. No matter where I am, my days are always full of discovery. I can walk by the same lampposts every day and then suddenly see their beauty and singularity for the first time. My extended stays in London have been a great artistic opportunity for me to see new horizons and start pursuing a new type of career. I’ve shifted my focus from digital advertising, which involved working with many people, to designing art prints and greeting cards, where I feel my individual creative ideas can come through more clearly. With the art prints particularly, I can create on a large scale, creating immersive images from visions that started on small screens!
Photoshop.com: What role does Photoshop Touch play in your artistic process?
Barbara Braman: I do most of my initial work in Photoshop Touch and it has become a dominant part of my workflow. It is so intuitive, fast, and fresh—it becomes an invisible part of my image-creation process. I can start something in one direction, save it, and then move toward another direction and try new things. It feels so lightweight and tactile, because I’m using my finger or a stylus. It goes quickly, like having a piece of paper and pencil.
Photoshop.com: What are your favorite Photoshop Touch features?
Barbara Braman: Layers and Blending Modes are my favorites, without a doubt. With Layers, I can keep the original image intact, but then I can make Layers interact with each other, or use the Eraser tool to achieve transparency in different parts of a picture. Then, I might do a drawing using Brushes in Photoshop, save it to Creative Cloud, and open it in Photoshop Touch and use Blending modes and effects to bring it all together. It’s great to have a range of capabilities on a variety of platforms—desktop, cloud, and mobile; it’s an entire creative playground for my visions and ideas.
I also enjoy being able to post pictures directly to Facebook. The whole process feels seamless, from idea to idea generation, creation, and sharing with the world.
Photoshop.com: What is compelling for you about using digital technology to create individually crafted works of art?
Barbara Braman: The magic is in taking photos that are a snapshot of a memory or just something that catches my eye and creating alchemy by enhancing the color, editing the image slightly, or putting the most important parts of the “story” the image conveys to me front and center. For me, it’s mostly about the malleability of color, and its power to alter the experience. And with digital technology you can’t make a mistake really. There is no wrong way, so there’s no fear—isn’t that wonderful? You can just do it again in another way, and that’s really the ultimate gift for an artist: confidence and the ability to unleash your creativity without penalties.
Photoshop.com: How has your artwork changed with the introduction of Photoshop Touch to your workflow?
Barbara Braman: There’s something very intimate and liberating about Photoshop Touch. The result for me is that I want to revisit images I created in the past with a different intent in mind. I often find myself working the same or related images to create a different series for a different size, medium, or purpose. I’ve done a series of “splashing through rain” pictures that I’ve now printed small for an exhibition—I usually print large—and I’ve done a card series that uses the same image over and over again in new ways. I no longer feel like I’ve got to create one, great, standing-ovation image. Now, it’s about how I can express or reshape my images in slightly different ways. I’m also thinking of creating small handcrafted books or journals. Let’s just say my creative palette has more nuances, opportunities, and outcomes than ever before.
Photoshop.com: Describe what gives your photo creations a recognizable style.
Barbara Braman: I aim for freshness; for brief glimpses that implant an unexpected idea. I’m not shy: I like bold colors and splash them around a lot. I am not interested in sharp edges, but I do like patterns and shadows. Though my style might be considered flashy, I still respect detail and precision. Details hold everything together to make an image series coalesce into a cohesive representation of an idea.
Photoshop.com: How did you create the result in Waiting for the Bus?
Barbara Braman: This image is a great representation of what is my pretty standard workflow. Starting with a photo, I cropped the image, used the slider tools to correct the color and exposure, and added layer effects. Then I started adding a lot of layers that I edited in different ways. I added a black-and-white layer for definition and a few paint layers to emphasize a color and form in the image. These layers were then altered using an effect layer that related to the rest of the image. Everything was then combined to create the final image.
Photoshop.com: Describe a favorite image you’ve created and what grabs you about it.
Barbara Braman: The picture called Swimming is a glimpse of what a woman sees out of the corner of her eye while she is swimming. I am fascinated with perception; particularly how human brains receive and store memory and emotion. This image looks very simple, until you start to think about what the woman is actually experiencing—and then you get it. If you are a swimmer, then you’ve been there before. The image itself was actually quite complex to make. I used a portion of a photo of a woman swimming, than layered a collage of different textures, effects, and gradients until I achieved the effect I wanted. I had a distinct idea of what I was looking for and a certain feeling that I wanted to create, and juggled layers and effects until I was happy with the result.
Photoshop.com: Tell us about any other creative mediums you work in; are there any other areas you wish to explore and have not yet?
Barbara Braman: The list is long. Bookbinding and just the sheer process of potentially creating a book are fascinating, and will be a big learning experience. I also like traditional print such as monoprints.
I love watercolor and line drawing—the original foundation of my advertising graphics arts business was hand-drawn wedding invitations. As I moved toward digital art, it hooked me, but now, with tools like Photoshop Touch, it’s coming more full circle and art is once again becoming more hands on.
I’m also moving into teaching and it has been very rewarding. I’ll be conducting a mini-class at a local art association soon.