Tag Archives: Digital Collage

Following a trail…

Looking for words to describe the stitches that follow color and shape and pattern…layers upon layers that started out as a something that was photographed, losing its way within a photoshop process that I cannot exactly describe. When I am doing it, I am just in it.

Several years ago, I happened on a “spirit cloth” blog by Jude Hill, that captured me for a week as I read the full seven years of entries. I read about process and stitching and bit and pieces of personal life and a cat named Soul-O. Now I read her every day. I’ve found myself reminded of a younger me who liked to embroider and sew.

I remembered an older woman (to young me when I knew her) many decades ago named Fern. She was sister to my dear friend, Gene Gray, who taught me photography for a brief two years before his death in 1978. I visited Fern from time to time. She often showed me what she had just made, using only hand-stitching, no machine — pillows, curtains, covers for her car seats, placemats, napkins. Oh, I wish had photographed all those so long ago, to help my memory of them now (that I am approaching quickly the age Fern was then.)

What I remember from my younger self is the longing to slow down and sew like Fern. It took me almost forty years to come back to this slowing down.

I am now sewing again with awkward stitches and no viable business plan for art marketing of embroidered mandalas. It’s taking so much slow time just to do it.

This mandala was accidentally printed too large to go on an apron bib as originally planned. Now it’s hugging a store-bought pillow (haven’t slowed down that much to make the pillow by hand) made by someone in India working for a pittance.

The mandala puckered with the stitching on to a thin layer of cotton batting. The “feel” of it becomes my favorite layer, a digital mandala for touching.

• the finished mandala attached to the pillow center…
with large boro-stitching beginning from the pillow seams

• the puckering reminds me of trapunto…stitching from the center out, with a ring of french knots like persons sitting in lotus poses with wavy purple stitches cross-legged

• following the pattern of the original cracking of paint on an old propane tank using pale green thread…many, many years ago I visited the huge studio and artists’ gallery space of Chris Sorenson in Fresno. He had piles of old propane tanks outside the front entrance. I took many photos of peeling paint on the tanks. These photos seem to find their way into a layers in almost all of my mandalas. As I stitched the lines of the paint, I remembered those tanks, now long gone as art works in their own right.

• the hem of the mandala looks like a bleeding of the boro stiches, reminding me of turtles reaching the shoreline

Mandala: “Hello” digital collage © Elsah Cort

Dyeing Frida

"Dyeing Frida" digital collage © Elsah Cort

“Dyeing Frida” digital quilt collage ©Elsah Cort


Had a notion to make a quilt collage (after several days of immersion here)
and started with these three photos…

                       Aweb Bweb Cweb

Then someone posted on facebook
about old Frida Kahlo dresses found some where….

Dweb Eweb

And, forty or so layers and versions later, the two dresses become one, dyed anew.




Coming back to writing here…we’ll see. Might need to do some editing.
But for now, I return.

"HandMade" digital collage © Elsah Cort
“HandMade” digital collage © Elsah Cort

This one was made to honor the spirit of the Wesak full moon that rose
directly centered over Case Mountain last night.


Making digital paintings to use as a background for new mixed media collages, I find myself diving deeper into the process and it’s getting harder and harder to know when a piece is done.

The next layer to this work will take place in the studio, when I play with some hands-on work….

© Elsah Cort

© Elsah Cort


© Elsah Cort


Here are the three photographs that made this digital painting.
All these images were taken at the Chris Sorensen Studio in Fresno.

© Elsah Cort © Elsah Cort © Elsah Cort


[all images © Elsah Cort]

Anatomy of a Digital Painting

"Handscape" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“Handscape” digital painting © Elsah Cort
The first image to emerge from this process…two more followed.

"I See The LIght" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“I See The Light” digital painting © Elsah Cort
The second image to emerge from this series.

"Reaching" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“Reaching” digital painting © Elsah Cort
I was surprised when a third image showed up as I was preparing for this blog post.

I don’t know what my final image will be. I start out with one photograph.
This time I chose a photograph I took last week of the back door of the Chris Sorensen Studio in Fresno. It opens out into a back alley.








I make a selection of raw photographs to use and drag them into a folder tagged with date the digital painting was started. This folder was called June 30.

Here are the photos that I initially chose.

A © Elsah Cort  ONEwebB

ONEwebC  F © Elsah Cort

The hand photo is a tile that I have in my kitchen.

This last one is a photo I took at the Sorensen studio several years ago of crackling paint on an old propane tank. Several of these shots always seem to find their way into my digital paintings.

E © Elsah Cort

Now the process starts. I add layers and images. I change colors or filters for how the layers are added. I keep playing until I find something that I like. I often save the image as a jpg and then use that fixed image as a new layer to add to the original ones. For this “anatomy” exercise I have save many of the versions as jpgs to include here. These 100+ images are not all of the versions, but they are in the chronological order of how they showed up.

1 2 © Elsah Cort 3 © Elsah Cort 4 © Elsah Cort

5 © Elsah Cort 6-1 © Elsah Cort 6 © Elsah Cort  8-1 © Elsah Cort

8 © Elsah Cort 9 © Elsah Cort 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
21 © Elsah Cort 33 31 © Elsah Cort 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22
34 35 37 38 39 40 41 © Elsah Cort 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72-1 73 74 74 © Elsah Cort 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 © Elsah Cort 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 9091 92 93 94 95 96 97 99

I See You

So I was reading a description of an art journaling workshop and how anyone can learn to draw but I am not sure that really pertains to me and my mind was trying to visualize me drawing something but I ended up photographing mundane images found in my bathroom like the bamboo leaves and stems back lit from the sun in the shower window and I used several of these images and I made this collage.

(I could not draw a human face, so I used one I found in the public domain.)

"I See You" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“I See You”
digital painting © Elsah Cort

9 x 7 inches print, mat size 14 x11 for $55
13 x 10 inches print, mat size 20 x16 for $75
A fine art museum quality digital print hand printed by the artist,
using archival Epson Claria Ink supported by Museo Max 250 gsm paper.

The Place of the Heart: new exhibition at the Ice House Theatre

My press release for my new show….

Three Rivers artist, Elsah Cort, is exhibiting twenty digital paintings in a show called “The Place for the Heart” from May 3-19 at the Ice House Theatre in Visalia. The exhibition will accompany the performances of Force of Nature presented by the Visalia Community Players.

After reading both the play and the book it was based on, Elective Affinities by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, first published in 1809, Cort created new digital paintings inspired by her readings. The play is about the struggles and misunderstandings and intrigues that can happen with marriage. In the very first opening moments of the play, Charlotte, one of the main characters in the play, announces, “Marriage is not a sacrament––it’s a work of art.”

Solar Eclipse on Beetle Rock" digital painting © Elsah Cort“Solar Eclipse on Beetle Rock”
digital painting © Elsah Cort

Just like Charlotte asking in the play, “How is the heart made, I wonder?”, Cort adds that she is not sure how she makes these new digital collage paintings, which essentially come forth as collaged art forms made from many of her original photographs. “I play with them using photoshop, adding layer after layer, merging color, texture and form until I like what I see. It is fun”, she explains.

Over twenty years ago Cort began making collages using magazine cut outs and other paper textures. She announced at the time that she did not ever want to have one of those new fangled computers. Then she organized a group collage show and a friend brought in a new wonderful image that blended a photograph, words and a painting. She asked how was this collage made and was told it was photoshop. “I knew I had to change my mind and eat my words about not wanting a computer”, she says.

Now all these years later, Cort has embraced the computer as one of her collage tools.  She says, “I love collage as my art medium because it blends so many aspects together. It is like putting together a puzzle with no defined pieces or final image to achieve. There are strong serendipity and surprise factors that make the art work.”

Cort has lived in Three Rivers for 36 years and is the founder and organizer of the Three Rivers Biennial Artist’s Studio Tour, which comes back on March 21-22-23 in 2014.

For ticket information about Force of Nature, visit visaliaplayers.org or call 559-733-9329.

More digital painting images from this exhibition:

IWannaHoldYourHandWEB     ThePlaceOfTheHeart7x9WEB

Tree Bark

© Elsah Cort
This is a new collage from photos taken in Crescent Meadow last week,
visiting the monarch Sequoia tree that burned on my birthday in August,
which now has 50% of its original substance fallen to the ground.