You may have heard of compositing as it relates to the film industry—combining visual elements from separate sources into single images, often creating the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene, for instance with the use of green screen. Lakelands artist Carol Walsh’s preferred compositing style is what she terms fine art photography, “moving past traditional photography toward a very personal image.”
For Walsh, compositing refers to the technique of layering multiple photographs in Photoshop, “ so I can go beyond the obvious.” At first, her creative process entwined photography with her watercolor paintings. Later, she used multiple layers of her original photographs to create a visual reality of her inner self. “Each of my images tells a personal, symbolic story about my memories, emotions, dreams and fantasies. Embedded in each of these composites is a story—one of evolution and change,” she said.
With a fine arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University, Walsh’s first focus as an artist was on fiber art, weaving on 1,000-pound looms 64 inches wide. She received two international awards for her efforts. In the early ‘90s, she had a one-person show of 26 pieces at the Franz Bader Gallery in DC. One of them, an impressive lush swirl of wool in red hues with a Native American influence, is a centerpiece in her living room.
But photography has been a lifelong love, so much so that she constructed her own darkroom. The link between fiber arts and photography is that they both require the use of the right and left brain, logic and creativity, Walsh reflected.
Currently her work includes photographs of live models. These photos are sandwiched together with natural scenes to create an ethereal vision of fantasy. “Mythical fantasy,” she noted, “archetype figures telling a story—something is happening—many images together.” The vivid images can sometimes include up to 50 layers.
“What I like is that it is such a personally creative style,” she said. Walsh prints her 20-by-20-inch images numbered in editions of 25 on a 24-inch wide printer that uses 12 color cartridges and prints on large rolls of 100-year life archival paper. Walsh’s work is infinitely influenced by the imagery of emotion, life experience, dreams and personal growth. Natural surroundings and photography from the same geographic area help to maintain visual cohesiveness in her photo collages.
She recently retired from a career as a psychotherapist to concentrate on her art and finds that she cannot separate one from the other. “Everything I do is part of me as a person,” she said. “I love stories—wonderful parallels. Curiosity is an important part of creativity. If you ask yourself ‘what-if’ questions, you’re going to learn so much more. Those what-ifs pull me.”
Walsh is a member of the North Bethesda Camera Club and leads two creativity groups for club members to stretch their creative thinking and enjoy camaraderie. She believes that art helps us understand ourselves and can be both soothing and healing. She has also authored four books, including a recent memoir entitled “Painting Life: My Creative Journey through Trauma.”
Walsh will have seven images in the upcoming “Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Humor” exhibit at Bohrer Park showing from Nov. 7 through Jan. 15, 2019 with an artist’s reception on Nov. 8 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. In addition, she will have pieces in two upcoming shows at the Arts Barn—one with a water theme and one featuring work in black and white. To see more of Walsh’s work, visit www.ckwalsh.com or www.facebook.com/carolkwalsh.