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Art intensified

A photographer uses her computer to add a punch of color to her photos

A photographer uses her computer to add a punch of color to her photos

October 19, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - When Melanie Brownsmith became pregnant, she wanted to continue painting, but without having the chemicals around her or her children.

So she turned to digitally painting photographs, using Corel Painter and Corel Paint Shop Pro.

Brownsmith had been a wedding photographer and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from then-named Shepherd College, so she combined photography and painting.

Several of Brownsmith's landscapes and cityscapes will be on display in the Jean Heiler Gallery at the Old Opera House, 204 N. George St., from Friday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 2.

Some of the works are painted photographs and some are unaltered photographs. The gallery is open during the run of a suspense thriller, "Night Watch." The exhibit can be seen by appointment or during the hour before each showtime. The show is free and open to the public; call 304-725-4420 to make an appointment.

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Brownsmith, 33, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., uses a computer pen and tablet to apply color and brushstrokes to the image, which she sees on her computer screen. The pen acts as a brush. The software allows her to choose which type of paintbrush she wants to use and reads how hard she pushes down with the pen. To leave brushmarks in the image, she pushes more firmly.

To see more of Brownsmith's work, go to http://melliegirl.smugmug.com.




 








"Rain appeals to me. I like rainy day moments," Melanie Brownsmith said. She photographed these raindrops in Boyce, Va., around 2005, using a macro lens on her Nikon D-70 camera. Within the raindrops, the image of the building is upside down.




Brownsmith was sitting in the window of her former home in Leetown, Va., during the winter of 2004-'05 when she photographed this titmouse resting on the bird feeder. She used a zoom lens. The bird was about 75 feet away.




Brownsmith's friend Brian Barger, of Berryville, Va., took this photo of her during one of those days when they were hanging out taking pictures. In this photo she was playing around with a wig. Later, she "touched up" the photo.




Brownsmith started with a photo her father, Ian Brownsmith, took during a visit to Venice, Italy, in October 2006. "I started this project as a gift for my parents - taking the pictures they took and recreating them," Brownsmith wrote."Every part of the original photo is repainted one brush stroke at a time," she wrote. Each painting, like the finished one, can take 20 or more hours. She might use Photoshop first to change the color of a building, edit the shade or color saturation, remove something from the photo she finds irrelevant, or add something to make it more interesting.




Brownsmith photographed this old rail station in Charles Town, W.Va., on a spring day when the color and the day were perfect, she said. "I love color. You're driving down the road, and wow, the color on that field really pops today," she said. While Brownsmith said the unaltered photo can stand alone, she added some brushstrokes to try to make the scene look even more perfect.

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