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Work Samples

Coneflower Fantasy

Coneflower Fantasy, Photography and Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
"Coneflower Fantasy" digital file later printed to watercolor paper and housed in an antique frame. Finished Dimensions: 19" x 23". Digital photos 2013 - 2015; digital photo illustration work, printing and framing 2016. Exhibits: "Fairies of the Fields: An Intimate Look at the Life of Meadows", solo interactive exhibit at Irvine Nature Center (March 2016 - May 2016) and Baltimore County Public Library (August - October 2016).

Diptych: Yellowthroat Slain

Rose Anderson's Diptych: Yellowthroat Slain at George Mason University in Unfriendly Skies: Birds, Buildings and Collisions
"Diptych: Yellowthroat Slain" installation view. 18" x 24" photographic prints mounted to acrylic. Digital photos 2014, photo illustration 2015. Exhibits (curated by Lynne Parks): "Unfriendly Skies: Birds, Buildings, and Collisions" George Mason University and Goucher College (2015); "When Worlds Collide", Top of the World Gallery (2016); various showings at private events. (Photo credit: Lynne Parks. Photo editing: Rose Anderson)

Chesapeake Bird

Chesapeake Bird, Photography and Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
"Chesapeake Bird", digital photos 2012 - 2015; photo Illustration work 2015, 18" x 24". Exhibits: Baltimore's Peace of Art public artists demonstrations (May - September 2015); Collective Minds Cultural Arts Stage (September 2015). This is part of a planned exhibit of Chesapeake Bay photo illustrations.

Untitled Photo Illustration - Series in Progress

Untitled Photo Illustration from a Series in Progress, by Rose Anderson
"An Ancient Wise" from a series in progress. Digital Photography with digital photo manipulation effects. This is one of a series with the working title "Translucence: Of Leaves and Love" planned for a solo exhibit in 2017.

Fairies of the Fields: An Intimate Look at the Life of Meadows

We only conserve what we know, and she hadn't known. The county hadn't known. The man on the mower hadn't known. No one had seen the butterflies' faces and looked into their eyes as she had, and now they were gone.

Just days before, she had been standing in this field, tall grass and blooms of milkweed reaching towards the sky above her head as she raised her camera, snapping away at the birds and butterflies. Now she stood there at the edge of the brown, flattened stretch of ground sick with the thought that maybe it had been her job to save them. Continuing to take pretty photos without protecting her subjects would be worse than meaningless. It would be hypocritical.

And so she set out to show everyone the storybook world of the meadow and the creatures who lived there, the fairies of the fields.

Fairies of the Fields: An Intimate Look at the Life of Meadows is a collection of digital photo illustrations printed to watercolor paper and housed in salvaged frames. I worked on this project for over three years, taking photos from 2012 to 2015 and completing the Photoshop work to digitally combine them into illustrations in early 2016.

Some of the photo illustrations are simply one photo with many layers of digital effects; others I composed with dozens of photos and effects layers blended together. The final sizes of the framed works were dictated by the randomness of frames I found at estate sales and thrift shops, making a statement about the wasteful perfectionism that has become such a danger to our environment. Framed dimensions range from 13" x 11" for the smallest up to 25" x 31" for the largest.

I created a scavenger hunt game to encourage visitors to spend more time engaging with the images. Each piece of artwork on exhibit was labeled with a number, and each visitor received a printed sheet with a list of small thumbnails taken from the works. The guests walked through the entire exhibit multiple times, searching each piece carefully to find which ones contained the details on the sheet. As they found each detail, they wrote the number of the correct work next to the thumbnail until they had found all of the pictures and completed the game.

The story fragments that accompany some of the images in this profile are from the blog I publish on my artist website. They are "Storybook Pages" , like random pages found torn from a book, snippets of stories that let the imagination run wild.

Exhibits:
Irvine Nature Center (March - May 2016)
Baltimore County Public Library, Hereford Branch (August - October 2016)

  • Sitting on a Flower With a Butterfly - Detail

    Detail from Sitting on a Flower With a Butterfly, by Rose Anderson
    What is it like to sit on a flower with a butterfly? Nature from a different point of view.
  • Sitting on a Flower with a Butterfly, Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson

    Sitting on a Flower with a Butterfly, Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
    What is it like to sit on a flower with a butterfly? Nature from a different point of view. Digital photo illustration completed 2016, archival watercolor print; final framed dimensions 25" x 21".
  • At the Flower Farm

    At the Flower Farm, Photography and Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
    The littlest one peered out at me from an enormous orange petal. "They planted more flowers," he said. "We live here now."
  • At the Flower Farm

    At the Flower Farm, Photography and Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
    The littlest one peered out at me from an enormous orange petal. "They planted more flowers," he said. "We live here now." Digital photo Illustration completed 2016, archival watercolor print; final framed dimensions 21" x 17".
  • How Will the Future Know Them?

    How Will the Future Know Them? Photography and Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
    "I've seen them in real life before," whispered the elderly docent. "But that was many years ago." This is the only photo illustration in the series that does not show my characters' faces. Digital photo Illustration completed late 2015; archival watercolor print, final framed dimensions 25" x 31".
  • How Will the Future Know Them?

    How Will the Future Know Them?  Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
    “I’ve seen them in real life before,” whispered the elderly docent. “But that was many years ago.” This is the only work in Fairies of the Fields that does not show the characters' faces.
  • Coneflower Fantasy

    Coneflower Fantasy, Photography and Photo Illustration by Rose Anderson
    When the garden was unkempt by the gardener's standards, it was the season of plenty and pleasures. Digital photo Illustration completed 2016, archival watercolor print; final framed dimensions 19" x 23".
  • The Autumn Fields

    The Autumn Fields, Artist Rose Anderson
    Even late in the autumn, the fields were alive. Digital photo illustration completed 2016, archival watercolor print; final framed dimensions 23" x 19".
  • Spiral

    Spiral, by Rose Anderson
    Up the hill behind the barn was her favorite place. Digital photo Illustration completed 2016, archival watercolor print; final framed dimensions 19" x 16".
  • Sherwood Fields

    Sherwood Fields, photo illustration from Fairies of the Fields
    Sherwood Fields, photo illustration from Fairies of the Fields: An Intimate Look at the Life of Meadows. Digital photo illustration completed 2016, archival watercolor print; final framed dimensions 21" x 17".

Fairies of the Fields: An Intimate Look at the Life of Meadows, Continued (1)

The interactive game encouraged guests to engage with the artwork by hunting for details and marking their answers on the game sheet. Guests often walked through the exhibit multiple times in their search. The information board shared the show's mission of raising awareness about conservation of wild field habitats, and gave some insights into how I created the photo illustrations.

Fairies of the Fields: An Intimate Look at the Life of Meadows, Continued (2)

More views of the individual photo illustrations.

Process Demo - Collage and Video

Creating a photo illustration is a process that often takes me several years from start to finish.

I spend well over half of my artistic time on nature photography. My camera is not a journalist of objective reality, but a tool to capture diverse elements of reality that I use to build my fantasies. When I am gathering photos for my illustrations, a landscape is never one carefully planned shot, a scene is never one moment frozen in time but a collection of many smaller details used to build a bigger picture.

I don't always know how I will use a particular photo, so I think in terms of photographing backgrounds, middlegrounds, foregrounds, skies, bird and butterfly characters, objects for the characters to sit on or peer from behind, etc. I shoot multiple angles and positions for each. One background or a middle ground shot will most likely be meshed together with other photographic elements, digital paint effects, and digital texture to make one backdrop.

My process invites discussion of environmental issues, because I am often combining pieces of many different damaged habitats to create the illusion of one healthy habitat, or combining pictures of individual insects and birds to make it seem as if there are more of them in these fantasy healthy environments.

I will later combine pictures of birds and butterflies to tell a story, so photographing individuals from different angles and in different moments ensures I will have a range of expressions and positions to work with. Because I want to give my audience an intimate and childlike view, capturing faces of insects is critical, as is getting the lens inside the habitat. I am often kneeling or lying on the ground when I take photos, including backgrounds. To take people inside a magical world, everything must be from the characters' point of view.

When I am ready to build an illustration, I search my computer for photos I have organized by year, month, day, and location. I think of my work as bending space and time; any given illustration could combine images from taken many miles apart and many years apart. Before I can use all of these photos in the same illustration, I individually edit them to look as though they were taken at the same time. Then I can arrange them, digitally paint them, resize and blur or sharpen to place them near or far, and rotate or reverse to make the characters interact or simply go about their lives in a composition that pleases the eye.

The collage shows some of the photo layers from my Coneflower Fantasy illustration from Fairies of the Fields. The video shows the building of prepared photo elements into the final composition.

Diptych: Yellowthroat Slain

"I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
I was the smudge of ashen fluff--and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky."

~Vladimir Nabokov

Diptych: Yellowthroat Slain is a photo illustration I initially created for the April 2015 Goucher College installation of Unfriendly Skies: Birds, Buildings and Collisions conceived and curated by Lynne Parks. Lynne was raising awareness about the millions of birds that die each year because of collisions with window glass and invited me to create a work on this theme. Common Yellowthroats are frequently victims of Window Collisions in Baltimore City.

I illustrated a story in two parts intended to be mounted in a corner. The viewer would stand between an illustration of the beauty of a living bird, and see on the opposite side a dead bird with the reflection of what might have been if humans had made different choices. In keeping with the theme of glass, I had the two 18" x 24" photographic prints face-mounted to clear acrylic without any other framing.

Yellowthroat Slain was the featured image for the Washington City Paper review of Unfriendly Skies: Birds Buildings and Collisions at George Mason University in October 2015.

Yellowthroat Slain was also included in Lynne Parks' When Worlds Collide group exhibit at Top of the World Gallery in Baltimore's Inner Harbor in March 2016.

Translucence: Of Leaves and Love

It was late evening in late summer. I lay down for the night.
As I slipped into that strange space between awake and asleep

I saw autumn leaves glowing translucent in golden evening sun.
I felt that glow on my body like a warm embrace.

I was a child naive and an ancient wise, all of my selves converging
into one infinite now. I grasped at love in its purest form
and tried to hold myself there.
I awoke sobbing.

Fall came late. I waited for those leaves and watched them change.
I photographed them glowing in the sun, and painted them
emerging from darkness in my chiaroscuro dream.

We are beautiful in different ways, broken in different ways,
and love illuminates us in the dark. I have seen it.

This is a series in progress inspired by a dream in September 2016. I carried the dream experience with me into the intensifying climate of US politics in the following months, creating the photos and the digital illustrations in that emotional context. I will exhibit these late in 2017 as warm, richly textured prints on watercolor paper and canvas in antique and rustic framings. The free-form poem above will be displayed prominently as guests enter the exhibit, and phrases from that poem will become the titles of the artwork so that the poetry echoes in their minds as they view each image.

The Story of Our Natural History Through Photography

"They shouldn't be this hard to find," she said, almost simultaneously realizing that her companion had wandered off and she was talking to herself.

No one but the tiny forest creatures would stay while she spent hours combing the forest floor for the ephemeral spring blossoms that became more and more rare each year. As soon as the trees began to sprout the first leaves of spring, precious things could be found if she persisted. Four hours each Saturday, four hours each Sunday, April through June, in just a few square miles of forest floor, she found and recorded them one at a time.

Their exact names weren't important; she could learn those later. She just needed to catch them in their brief appearance to know that they still existed. As the forest canopy became dense with leaves, they would be gone. She would return in late summer to find the blooms of fungi that replaced them.

In spring of 2016, I began a nature photography project based primarily in just a couple of square miles of forest along the Gunpowder river. It lasted into the Fall. The shoots were to be in preparation for a future exhibit called "Understory: Fairies of the Forest" but also took on a life of their own as I continued to document species made more and more rare due to changes in the environment over the past several decades.

I used a number of the photos as part of a September 2016 program on the importance of ordinary citizens documenting our natural history through nature photography, held at the Hereford Branch of Baltimore County Public Library. Many of these images are also used by the Maryland Biodiversity Project, a non-profit that gathers photo documentation of Maryland plants and wild creatures.

  • The Understory: Ferns and Moss

    The Understory: Ferns and Moss, by Rose Anderson
    A rare view of a healthy patch of forest understory along the Gunpowder River in Baltimore County.
  • Dwarf Ginseng

    Dwarf Ginseng
    Dwarf Ginseng, a rare and precious forest understory flower.
  • Showy Orchid

    Showy Orchid, Photography by Rose Anderson
    The showy orchid, a rare and often poached understory flower that blooms for a very short time in the spring.
  • Virginia Waterleaf Flowers

    Virginia Waterleaf Flowers, Photo by Rose Anderson
    The flowers of Virginia waterleaf on a rainy day. This plant is a rare treasure of the forest understory in Maryland.
  • Sessile-leaf Bellwort

    Sessile-leaf Bellwort, Nature Photography by Rose Anderson
    A beautiful member of the lily family that grows from the forest floor very briefly in the spring.
  • Pink Mushroom Bloom

    Pink Mushroom Bloom
    An abundance of pink mushrooms blooming from a rotting log in the forest understory.
  • Coral Fungus

    Coral Fungus
    The coral of the forest understory.
  • Pink Mushroom Colony

    Pink Mushroom Colony, Photo by Rose Anderson
    Pink mushroom colony against the greenery of the forest floor.
  • Satyr's Beard

    Satyr's Beard, Photo by Rose Anderson
    The fungus known as Satyr's beard growing in its forest understory environment.

The Story of Our Natural History Through Photography, Continued

More photos taken in preparation for Understory: Fairies of the Forest.

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About Rose

Baltimore County

Summary  Rose Anderson uses nature photography and photo illustration as a medium to raise awareness about threatened habitats and wildlife. Her aesthetic draws on childhood storybooks, film photography, and 17th century oil painting, using nostalgia as an urgent call to preserve a... more

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