Drawing on Water: A Collaboration

Smoke and Water, Elena Caravela & Karen McRae

Swimming Underwater, Elena Caravela & Karen McRae

A few weeks ago when I was editing images of water reflections, a couple of the images brought to mind the work of another artist. It’s hard to describe what specifically sparked this association but I’ll try to explain.

Partly, it was me looking at these images and already seeing things in the reflections – drawings on water. – my own perceptions. I thought these could be a starting point for something, or someone, and that someone turned out to be artist (and fellow WordPress blogger), Elena Caravela. Elena is a wonderfully accomplished multidisciplinary artist/author who does work that includes children’s book illustrations, drawing, watercolour and oil painting. I admire her work enormously.

It was something about her magical drawings that sparked the idea to suggest a collaboration with the photographs as a starting point. I sent her an email asking if she would like to work with me on a project and I was delighted that she agreed! In truth, Elena did most of the work on this project.

What I thought might be interesting is that I already had ideas about what I could see in these images and I wondered what Elena might see and how she might develop them. The drawings above are the final result with Elena interpreting them in her own wonderful way. Click on each image to see them a little larger and experience all the enchanting details.

Here is what Elena had to say about the process:

“I did not want to interfere with the images too much. I knew right away that I wanted to maintain much of the structure and color. In fact I did not introduce any new color, and used only what I found within the images. I worked digitally in layers directly over Karen’s work, not touching the original but taking my cues from it.”

“Each photograph presents its own special charm. After turning it on its side, the negative space in the “frog” piece spoke to me immediately of dreamy water creatures in motion and rippling below the surface. The “figure” piece was quite the opposite. It was its fluid line and dynamic composition that captured my attention. The swirls appeared to me as smokey figures frozen in perilous escape. The smoke alternately dissipates and collects, providing just enough presence to tell its story.”

Below are the images as I sent them to Elena:
What do you see?

Since this work is entirely digitally based I thought it might be fun to throw a few random words into this particular artist statement generator (I love that such a thing exists!) and see what would happen – An artist statement about nothing and everything:

Caravela/McRae’s work investigates the nuances of modulations through the use of slow motion and close-ups which emphasize the Symbiotic nature of digital media. Caravela/McRae explores abstract and shaping scenery as motifs to describe the idea of infinite space. Using water loops, non-linear narratives, and allegorical images as patterns, Caravela/McRae creates meditative environments which suggest the expansion of space…

Elena’s website and blog. Please check out her amazing work. 
A huge thank you to Elena for all the work she put into this! I love what has developed.

© Elena Caravela & Karen McRae, 2012

63 thoughts on “Drawing on Water: A Collaboration

  1. Lovely images (both versions). What were the photographs originally of? I like the life that has been bought into Elena’s images. The first looks like there is a woman floating around in the swirls and the in the second lots of fish. Beautiful.

  2. Ooh, I like them. Such a sensitive portrayal of your work. Almost imperceptible but just there, one of the things I like the most. But I love them in themselves! I would like to see more … 🙂 I keep seeing fairies (in the top one)- is that bad?:) hehehe!!! Oh and the frog – oh goodness! Adorable. Adorable work!:)

  3. This is really lovely. lt’s so interesting how Elena has woven a story into yours, I like that idea very much..incidentally – LOVE the artist statement generator!! Apparently, “Rennie explores abstract and pure scenery as motifs to describe the idea of infinite space.” I actually quite like that!! 🙂

  4. Collaboration is so cool, and what a gentle delicate touch you both have.
    And thanks for sharing the generator (cranking out crap, hehehe)

  5. Hi! Elena here. First I want to thank you all for your kind words. It was so much fun working with Karen. It was a gift. She’s wonderfully generous, and I’m a huge fan of her stunning work.
    Carla, you asked a great question. I worked in Photoshop. Specifically, Photoshop allows for multiple layers to draw on, so I did not have to disturb Karen’s image. I created a layer per color and figure, and literally drew with a stylus on a Wacom (digital) tablet. Photoshop also allows for varied opacity changes and offers all sorts of options. For this, I wanted to keep my work as simple as possible because the underlying images were already beautiful.

    1. Elena, Oh what fun ! I knew of layers and haven’t tried any digital drawing with a stylus. I’m still into ‘slow’ art. Yes, how perfect not to disturb Karen’s lovely images and have fun reacting to her images with your painting.The collaborative results are stunning. Carla

  6. Karen – I can’t resist. I went to Pixmaven for an instant art critique to go with your artists statement, and fabulous collaborative works. Here is the critique:

    “With regard to the issue of content, the sublime beauty of the spatial relationships endangers the devious simplicity of the essentially transitional quality.”

  7. I thought I’d left a comment on this post before Karen, but it seems not. I can’t really remember what I wrote then so I’ll just summarise. This.work.is.just.superb! Congratulations to the both of you.

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