The following series is a collaboration that took place between J. Slattum and Peter Westermann over a period of several weeks using email as the primary form of communication. Below is a look into the entire process along with some notes for each step.
J. Slattum - When creating a new piece, I like to start out from the foundation and build-up. In my opinion, concept is most critical to any work of art- it needs to tell a story. Peter came to me with the concept of seeing oneself, truly, for the first time. I immediately connected with the idea, as inner travel is a deeply ingrained step in my creative process. When we see ourselves clearly for the first time, it's as if a ripple emanates across our surface-perception, revealing the veil itself... one does not question what exists behind the door if one does not know of the door. On my side of things, I wanted to really take this concept and embellish the self-reflection message of it.
Peter - The picture below was the original reference photo I created for this concept. It is a simple composition I created using three photographs and my bathroom mirror. For reasons unknown I never did start on the finished piece. Once I became good friends with J. this picture came back into my mind. Then we started talking about a collaboration and the pieces truly fell into place. When I explained the idea to him it really felt like I hadn't started this piece because I was waiting to meet J. As stated above, this was my attempt to visualize a profound moment of self discovery.
J. Slattum - I'd have to say in the work that I do, aesthetically, composition gets the most attention. The layout and elements are all meticulously chosen and placed to really send home the message. I think the key is saying as much as possible, most simply... 100% concentrated meaning. The composition in our collaboration was really challenging from the beginning- the placement of the hands, facial designs, background concepts. As you can see throughout this blog, these elements changed the most. Another challenge was designing the work so that it was strong on its own but also offered itself to all the digital additions we wanted to include.
Peter - We spent a lot of time on the placement of the hands especially. There seemed to be a lot of possibilities in this kind of composition and so we made sure to explore several before deciding on how to move forward. In order to really cement the idea of "reaching out" we decided to make one of the arms in a halfway position in order to give the scene a better feeling of movement.
J. Slattum - I am a fiend for light. There might possibly be moth in my family somewhere down the line. Our eyes see tones before hue, light and shade before color. This is always my favorite part of the work. I knew before the piece even got passed composition, that there would be a glowing lotus flower as the strongest light source.
Peter -. The way me and J go about lighting is very different, and it was exciting to have a brand new method employed. I freehand most of my lighting and shading as I go along, while J. meticulously plans his lighting from source objects. The results is a very atmospheric and realistic feel that is hard to beat.
J. Slattum - This was a tough call. I was torn between traditional color-symbolism of the lotus vs aesthetic symbolism. I ended up bending towards an aesthetically pleasing lotus that encompassed several other colors... an ultimate lotus, if you will. I felt this also created a more interesting color contrast.
Peter - We didn't take long to decide on what colors to go with. There is a very strong tradition of blue and purple being described as calming and introspective colors and so it seemed like a great fit.
J. Slattum - From here, I painted an underpainting (not seen), then layered color on top of this. I started with the dark shades of color, let that dry, then stepped up the light with every layer.
Peter - At this point I jumped in with some finishing touches. The first thing I added was the geometric pattern and colored halos around the lotus. Next came the inscriptions placed on the surface of the floating puzzle pieces. Finally I added some liquid effects accenting the surface between the two dimensions of the composition.
We hope you enjoyed this collection of notes and images, thanks for taking a look and supporting our artwork!
If you would like a copy of your own - Limited Edition Prints Available Here