Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Digital collage

I mentioned I wanted to learn more about digital art and collages not too long ago. This is one of my first digital collages since my laptop died a few years ago. Made in Pixlr-o-matic (textured background) and Picnik.com (the rest) -- something that took a bit of time since I'm used to working with layers in PSE, which I can't with this software. It's not great and I can't even call it my first try (though my first try using Picnik for this type of images), but I think it's nice enough to blog about. Showing at I at least try to learn something new. 

I've got a few more with quotes, but right now the big issue is that I find it hard to pick out quotes to work with. I've got to find my old compilation of poems and texts I like...

The text in the collage is by Harry Martinson (1904-1978), a poet and writer I really like. He won the Nobel prize in literature in 1974. He grew up in poverty without his parents -- his father died and his mother emigrated to America, leaving him behind. Became a seaman at age 16. Then he became a famous and loved writer, making his debute as poet in 1929. The years after he won the prize, the critizism against him grew harder and harder -- and in the end he comitted suicide by stabbing himself with scissors in a way similar to harakiri. A sad and brutal end to a man whose words I love to read. After his death, the Harry Martison Society (Harry Martinson-Sällskapet) was founded. Amongst other things they reprint his works and have founded two prizes in his memory.

This short essay is titled Försonande rymd ("Redemptive space" ) from the book De tusende dikternas bok (1986). It's been reprinted in Naturessäer by the Harry Martinson Society. I don't know if it has been translated, I'm afraid. As it's almost impossible to read the font -- and it didn't have å, ä or ö, three crucial letters in the swedish alphabet -- I'll publish the text below. First in original, then in my slightly clumsy translation.

Försonande rymd

I en by där jag levde fanns en bonde som jag hatade. Jag hade
beslutat att innan jag lämnade byn kasta en sten i hans ansikte.
En kväll såg jag honom köra hem från arbetet. Jag stod inne
mellan några träd och han såg mig inte. Men plötsligt höll han
in hästen och stanna den kracklande arbetsvagnen.
    Han satt länge alldeles stilla. Och efterhand gick det upp
för mig att han lyssnade på själva aftonens tystnad omkring sig;
till den frid som kan höras bara av den ensamma mänskan. Då
smög jag mig bort.

Redemptive space

In a village where I lived, there was a farmer I hated. I had decided
to, before I left the village, throw a stone in his face.
One night, I saw him drive home from work. I was standing behind
some trees and he didn't see me. But suddenly he held his horse
and stopped the cracking work wagon. 
     He sat still for a long time. And gradually it dawned on me that
he listened to the very silence of the evening around him; to the 
peace that can be heard only by the lonely man. Then I slipped away.

The scene captivated me the first time I read it. Standing like that, alone in a silent evening, is one of the most divine experience you can get. The beauty and harmony in nature at moments like that are hard to put in words. Pair my personal experience of moments like that with the man in the text. Her was this hard man, who probably had treated the young boy badly (I've read Martinson's depiction of his childhood and how he was treated by his foster parents and other adults so I'm not just basing it on this text) -- and suddenly we see his secret, soft side. A glimpse that tells us there is much more to this man than he has shown the child. Even our enemies can have benign sides we can sympathize with, though we might never see them. But if we do, we might change our opinion about them. As we get to know other sides, get a fuller picture of the personality, we might no longer in the same way hate the person we have made our enemy.

I hope you like it. Both the collage (though far from perfect) and Martinson's text.

PS! It's just as good the font is hard to read. I misspelled Martinson!!


  1. They seem like they would take ages to do! I am still struggling with the basics let alone the arty stuff! Love it...and the little story too.The bird is so sweet.

  2. Thanks! Well, it's mostly just textures and "stickers" (i.e. premade stamps from Picnik) so while it does take some time to tweak and decide where you want to go, right now it's mostly learning to use a "new" software that's the most time consuming part. There are so many things I either can't do anymore or don't yet know how to do.

    E.g. I can't work in layers and because I did a couple of filters/effects before adding the text and stickers it was hard to move each component without instead clicking the filter. Annoying things you don't have to keep in mind when working with e.g. PSE. Also, you have to start with an image in Picnik, you can't create a blank canvas, thus my need to use several different softwares, creating the blanks first in PhotoFiltre.

    But it's fun so usually I don't notice how long it might take to create a collage. You should try it: it's not that difficult to get nice results with some simple textures or filters. The hard part is the art rather than the technology (once you've mastered the basics): composing the layout, finding the right elements to add, choosing which filters to combine and so on. That you learn by trial and error and just playing around with all the functions.


A few words can mean so much. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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