Roses in Artwork: Feature Friday 10

I am on a rose kick this week! Roses are such popular flowers and subjects for artwork due to their beauty and elegance – and having a pleasing fragrance helps the real flower’s popularity in bouquets. While I have drawn and painted single roses, I had not yet tackled drawing or painting an entire bouquet of roses. This is in the process of changing, courtesy of my recent experiment with text-to-image software and digital art.

Everything is coming up roses

Sprinkled in among the three new rose bouquet computer-generated images will be blogging friends’ posts featuring roses in artwork in various media. I also wish to note that new hand-drawn and hand-painted art will be created and posted within the next month – before I talk to my Mom again on the phone. Yesterday, she did not beat around the bush or try to sugarcoat her opinion when she immediately asked me when I plan to get my paints back out and make real art instead of playing around on the computer and posting that. Mom knows how to use a clue-by-four!

Pink roses

It should be no secret that pink is my favorite color. So of course the first bouquet of roses I prompted the software to generate was specifically pink. No modifiers, just “bouquet of pink roses in vase on table,” if memory serves me correctly.

large bouquet of pink roses in a vase on the table
Bouquet of Pink Roses, digital artwork

This was only the second image I prompted the program to create, and I felt pretty lucky to get something that looked correct. Being a digital image, there is no original artwork available, but you can get art prints from my Pixels store. If you prefer to wear the art you buy, then take a look at my RedBubble shop options for this image.

If this is not enough pink roses for you, you can always take a look at Tatiana’s Spanish rose, a close-up photograph with enough detail the little ant on one of the rose petals is in clear focus. She found this pair in a garden in Andalusia, Spain. And on the subject of pink rose petals, Sharon Cummings beefed up her description of her rose petal mandala artwork at my request. (Sharon recently won a spot on one of Fine Art America’s billboards, and they even put that one near her in Tampa.)

Red roses

Red roses will be very popular come mid-February. While this won’t win me any points with the independent florists, I think it would be better to gift your Valentine with a rose that won’t wilt – in the form of artwork! Here is another lucky combination of text prompt and random number from the computer program that features red roses.

bouquet of red and pink roses with green foliage in blue vase on table
Roses in Blue Vase, computer-generated artwork

Buy your art prints of this beautiful bouquet through my Pixels store. Get your apparel and accessories with this image at my RedBubble shop. Again, being digital, there is no original painting or drawing available (yet).

If you need a little assistance getting into a romantic Valentine’s mood, check out Steve Heap’s flower photography where he revisits a red rose bouquet he had waiting with champagne for his wife’s birthday in 2012. He does his own version of digital art by using software filters on his photography.

Bouquet of multiple colored roses

In the process of searching for just the right set of modifiers for my text prompt, I noticed two that just go together like chocolate and peanut butter: romanticism (the art movement) and …. Thomas Kincade. Seriously, that would be how I would describe Kincade’s painting style in just one word. No “neo-” prefix, but straight up Romanticism. While he did mostly landscapes, I feel that soft, lovely style is best suited for floral artwork. When I did not specify which color of roses I wanted, I got this lovely image.

a very classic image of a bouquet of different colored roses in a fancy vase on a table, done in the Romanticism style with a Thomas Kincade look
Classic Roses in Vase, digital art

I must admit, I like this one. Not only because the notion of time-shifting Thomas Kincade back to the Romantic period of European oil painting and having him paint flowers appeals to me. Except for that odd but of red in the middle of the bouquet, this may well be the closest that computer program has come to generating the image in my mind. I may break out my oil paints and try this one myself (but after I do the yellow roses in pastel).

Meanwhile, if you want this classic bouquet of roses as an art print, get it at my Pixels shop. If you want it on a shirt or accessories for you home and person, it is available at my RedBubble shop. Again, no original of the digital artwork.

Finally, if you are in search of a perfect rose, Jim Hughes believes he has taken the perfect photograph of a perfect rose. The technical details sailed right over my head, but I do think that is a very good portrait style photo of an elegant rose. Be sure to read the backstory on said rose as well.

I hope all y’all have enjoyed this virtual cornucopia of roses in artwork! It may seem early to be thinking about Valentine’s Day flowers, but I want to be ready for 2023.

Yellow Roses in Purple Vase

First, believe it or not, this is a computer-generated image. I’ve been working for a while on trying to get some classic floral still life style images from the text-to-image software I’ve been playing around with, and after exhausting a certain look, I decided to try some different modifiers to the same basic text prompt.

I’ll cover this other style on Friday, but this particular image gets its own post for the simple fact I will be working on doing it by hand in the next week. Even more inspiring to me than the Sunset Palms image, this is a simple but elegant floral still life composition of a bouquet of yellow roses in a purple vase, sitting on a wood table. It is the complementary colors that make this idea pop.

Inspiring digital artwork

Picture of woman holding framed art print Yellow Roses in Purple Vase
Yellow Roses in Purple Vase, digital artwork available as an art print

But first, the important links for print products to buy. I have it on most products at my Pixels store as well as art prints. It doesn’t looks right on objects where the printing is horizontal in orientation. I recommend getting art prints from there because Pixels is owned by Fine Art America, who are big in the art print world. For those who enjoy wearing artwork, I recommend my RedBubble shop. My sister and mother both recommend them and are repeat customers.

The search for a good rose image

No surprise to long-time blog followers here, but I personally love yellow roses. I’ve been trying to paint or draw the “perfect” yellow rose piece since the day after I picked my art back up, and I have a couple watercolor paintings I did one to two years ago – Electric Yellow Rose and Yellow Rose. (If you buy the originals, you can rename them. I don’t try to be cute with what I name my artwork.) While I’ve played around with the idea in pastel and colored pencil, I have not accomplished anything I want to share. I think part of that is a matter of finding a good reference photo for it, because buying a nice bouquet of roses in a pretty vase each time I want to paint or draw would get rather expensive.

Enter the text-to-image digital artwork idea

So, what does an artist who lives on her veterans’ disability pay do in this situation? Well, I gave in to curiosity about the whole text-to-image software that so many people misname “artificial intelligence.” It is not intelligent. It just generates images based on your text prompt plus a style filter and any modifiers you use from the lists of phrases that will get you certain looks.

First, I tried the basic text prompt “bouquet of yellow roses” without any modifiers, and got a bunch of images that more-or-less fit that. The biggest variation is in that hard-to-define quality of composition. One was good, while the rest were mediocre at best. Here is the one I liked best.

bouquet of yellow roses
bouquet of yellow roses

Using modifiers in the text prompts

Not completely satisfied with this, I began to experiment with different modifiers to see what kind of image style I could get from which modifier. Some modifiers are specific art movements; some are specific artists’ names (and some of those are still alive and still painting), and others are descriptions like “dynamic lighting,” which is one of my favorites. No “chiaroscuro” or Edgar Degas, though my favorites are romanticism and Thomas Kincade, a combination that makes some very pretty images that don’t have much variation.

romantic yellow roses in vase on table
Romantic yellow roses in glass vase on table

Another style modifier I tried was Renaissance painting, which certainly has that feel to it, and I may experiment with that style further, but first I wanted to see how well (or how poorly) the software handled the idea of simulated pastels. These are soft pastels, not oil pastels, and I was disappointed to not find any famous pastellists in the artist list like Edgar Degas or Mary Cassat. Fellow Impressionist powerhouse Claude Monet was on the list, so on a whim I used his name along with pastels as the “medium” used and Impressionism as the style. I also specified the color scheme as yellow and purple. Here is the four-pack of images generated:

four computer-generated images using my text prompt
four computer-generated images using the text prompt “bouquet of yellow roses in fancy vase on table dynamic lighting yellow and purple pastels impressionism Claude Monet”

A bit of variation here, and while the first image is nice enough, it’s the second one (top right) that has captured my imagination. It is so close to being good! I think it is just missing that tiny little bit – perhaps toning down the background colors to make the focal point more attention-grabbing. I’ll also be tweaking that table, perhaps more of a tan than yellow, so it looks more like oak (like the image above).

Bouquet of Yellow Roses in a Purple Vase

So that is the development of a vague idea, “bouquet of yellow roses,” into a piece of digital artwork that you can purchase and I can use as a springboard to create my next work of art in pastel. I am thinking of giving my soft pastel set a proper workout for this, with details added in with pastel pencils. Until then, have a pleasant Thanksgiving week, and watch this space for a new Feature Friday.

Christmas Digital Artwork

Alright, fellow procrastinators: It is now the proverbial “last minute” as far as ordering custom greeting cards to send out for the winter holiday season. It does not matter if you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukah, Yule, Kwanza, or just the generic Festivus – it’s getting to be crunch time for ordering custom gifts or greeting cards if you want to receive them in time to send them back out! On my end, it’s crunch time for creating and posting Christmas artwork. That means I need to post up some digital artwork for the holidays since I procrastinated too long on the painting I started (in August).

Custom artwork for the holidays

I did post up a handful of hand drawn and hand painted artwork last year, and those are all still available. See my Winter Snowman, the two matching ornaments, and (my personal favorite) the colored pencil Christmas Candle for purchase links. My intent was to add to the collection, but I really do have problems getting into the holiday spirit in the summer. I guess I should not move to the southern hemisphere any time soon. Instead, I suppose I’ll just do my usual “one holiday at a time!” that has been my mantra for so many years, and promote this year’s Christmas and Yule artwork next summer. The other option is:

Digital art for the holidays

Honestly, if you have the patience to fine tune your text prompts and modifiers, then digital art is the quick fix. Once you have zeroed in on a good target prompt phrase, then you can have the software churn out multiple versions and simply choose the ones that have the right look and correct object shapes. I did some more playing and tweaking over the weekend, and here is the cream of the crop, so to speak.

Decorated Christmas Tree digital artwork

In a way, this one was both the easiest and the most finicky to get a version that didn’t have me saying, “It’s almost good except for …” I have a virtual folder at the NightCafe site with a good-size bunch of also-rans, but this one was one of the first and also one of the prettiest images of a fully decorated Christmas tree. I did need to crop off the sides, but the result fits the 8:10 ratio perfectly.

Decorated Christmas Tree digital artwork for the holiday
Decorated Christmas Tree, digital artwork in 8:10 format

You can order this image as a fine art print, or printed on a greeting card, puzzle (oh yeah, this one makes a great puzzle!) or home decor items at my Pixels store or at my RedBubble shop. Being digital art, there is no original to buy, but I may be inspired to try my brush at it in the darker days ahead.

Victorian Christmas Scene digital image

This one has a bit of a backstory to it. What I was attempting to get was some kind of image of a species of aloe plant often called a century plant with Christmas ornaments hung on the wide, flat leaves. It’s something you see down here in Florida, since southern pine trees are tall and sparse and very fast-growing (which makes them ideal for the lumber industry). There are a couple houses within a few miles of me that do this on a semi-regular basis, but I have never stopped and snapped a photo of this to use as a reference for a painting. Next time those houses decorate that way, I will certainly get a snapshot – even if it isn’t good enough to post here.

So, I used the text prompt “century aloe Christmas decorations,” and the software had no idea what it was supposed to display. Along with three that were just weird, I had this image, which I call Victorian Christmas Scene. It looks very quaint, like it ought to be a color plate in an edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Until, that is, you get a closer look at the greenery. Yup, some of that greenery is aloe plants.

Victorian Christmas Scene, digital computer-generated artwork
Victorian Christmas Scene, digital artwork

The proportions are a little off on some things, but overall it makes a very pleasant picture. The sky certainly looks like a winter afternoon, and all the lights and garlands lend a festive air to it, even though there are no people on the street at all. The bunch of aloe-like plant in the lower right corner aren’t obvious until you are putting it together as a jigsaw puzzle – which I am doing digitally since I have three cats in the house. For fun, here is a screenshot of this as a puzzle.

Victorian Christmas Scene as a jigsaw puzzle (in Microsoft Jigsaw)
Victorian Christmas Scene as a jigsaw puzzle

Like the others, you can order this image as an art print, a puzzle, apparel, or home dec item either at my Pixels shop or at my RedBubble shop. Like my other digital creations, there is no hardcopy original, and I really don’t see myself sitting down and drawing or painting this one. It’s a pretty street scene, but cityscapes just don’t appeal to me.

Red Poinsettias, the Christmas flower

Y’all had to know I’d get to this one eventually. It’s time for some red poinsettias, the official flower of Christmas. There are many reason why this flower is so popular, but the main one is all about the color combination of cheery red petals with yellow centers (stamen?) framed by the rich green leaves. Add in a strand of Christmas lights, and you get my next piece, unoriginally titled Red Poinsettias.

Red Poinsettias digital artwork featuring the Christmas flower with lights around the flowers
Red Poinsettias, digital artwork featuring the cheery Christmas flowers with lights

My husband chose this one of the two poinsettias images that turned out well, saying the lights and softer focus look goes better with the other two. “It’s like a visual theme,” he explained. I’ll roll with it, since I asked his opinion because I was having trouble choosing. He’s an artist also! Links to buy prints and home accessories at my Pixels shop and for a selection of apparel as well as more accessories at my RedBubble shop.

More digital artwork to come!

I am still not all the way through the categories from just my first two weeks of playing with the program that generates these images. I have a lot of flower bouquet images, and wanted to spotlight those in their own post. It looks like there will be at least two flower posts now, as this past weekend I hit upon a combination of modifiers that I really like. I’ll keep working on those posts, as well as working on refining my text prompts to see if I can get even better images, but I really wanted to get these up for my fellow procrastinators to order those custom Christmas cards … or you’ll have to wait until next year unless your family and friends are used to getting holiday cards in January.

Experimenting with Digital Art: Text-to-Image software

The other week, I saw a fellow artist post a link on Twitter about a site called NightCafe Studio where you enter in a text prompt and it generates an image (which a lot of people mistakenly called “artificial intelligence”). Curiosity finally got the better of me, so I followed the link and began to play around with the software as an experiment. You can see the portfolio of my experimenting here on my profile at NightCafe. I’ve spent almost two weeks playing with it now, which is to say I am stepping into the concept of digital art, at least on the text-to-image side of it. (It’s so much faster than drawing or painting, and right now I feel as though I have a hundred different things going.)

The good, the bad, and the “What the ****?”

The profile/portfolio I link to over on NightCafe only includes the stuff that turned out good. I started off with a simple enough prompt, “pink flower on dark green leaves” or something very similar. If you scroll down far enough you will see the result at the very bottom. I fiddled around with a couple other phrases, and deleted those results as I did not like them. I am saving all the flower ones for their own post, but then moved on to see what kind of results I could get for some classic still life subjects.

Modern style still life of red and yellow bell peppers and one cherry tomato on white plates with a blue tablecloth
Tomatoes and Peppers, digital art

Here is one that turned out nicely. I deleted probably half a dozen or more in my attempts to get a nice still life arrangement of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and an onion – salsa still needing assembly. I figured it would be perfect to hang up at my favorite Mexican restaurant in town, especially since my Summer Jalapeno painting is there. Let’s just say the program is not good at doing an onion and totally ignored the prompt about garlic. So instead of a still life I could name “Salsa, Some Assembly Required,” I got red and yellow bell peppers and a single cherry tomato. It does look nice, although I will need to draw/paint what I actually wanted. I uploaded the digital piece to my Pixels shop and my RedBubble shop for accessories, apparel, and prints.

Classic still life subject seem to give the art generator fits. I have some truly wild examples of a big weak spot in the code – but I will save a few of those for the floral post since I was trying for an old masters’ style of fruit and flowers still life composition. I will mention the text-to-image program has some issues with what shape apples are supposed to be. It also doesn’t seem to realize that apples and pumpkins are affected by gravity like everything else.

A smashing success for text-to-image

On a whim, I decided to try a text prompt that would describe my very first pastel piece I did at the age of just seven. I have no idea if it still exists, but it has stayed in my mind all these years. The first result is still the best: here is Sunset Palms, with the Neo-Impressionist style filter applied to it.

Sunset Palms, two palm trees silhouetted against a brilliant sunset sky with simulated impasto
Sunset Palms, digital art

The software even generated simulated impasto that looks like it was applied with a palette knife. I was a little surprised to see a swathe of green in the sky, but I think it works. I put this into Microsoft Jigsaw to play with it as a jigsaw puzzle, and the colors are just fun. Art prints are at my Pixels shop (along with puzzles) and apparel and accessories are at my RedBubble shop. I can definitely see myself painting variations of this image, either in acrylic or oil paint, once I finally get a cat-free art studio where it can dry without being walked on by my cats.

The struggle for black cats

I decided I wanted to see what kind of Halloween imagery the software could generate for me, and began to enter various prompts and try different style filters. I wanted an image of a black cat’s face filling the frame, with lovely green eyes providing a stark contrast to the black fur. Instead, the program spat out this – and I have seen hairballs that look prettier.

ugly software glitch
I just call it “fugly”

Well, at least it got the green eyes part right. No matter how I tilt my head and squint at it, it just does not look like a cat as I know them. This is emphatically NOT in the public portfolio, because that would just be embarrassing. Or maybe I am just not modern enough in my art sensibilities. I kept trying with the text prompts.

Black Cat sitting, digital artwork created using text-to-image software
Black Cat Sitting, digital art

The title Black Cat Sitting is the text prompt I used, and in this specific case, the image it gave me was very nice! I love the soft focus feel to the light, and the cat sure enough looks like a real cat. When I saw this one, I began to think perhaps there is some hope for text-to-image software after all. Yeah, famous last words. Here is what the software thinks a black kitten ought to look like.

another disasterpiece from a simple prompt
a five-eyed kitten? What the ****?

Yikes. That is not public anywhere else but here on the blog. Seriously – does this have five or six eyes, and why would a supposed “artificial intelligence” think kittens look like that? I mean, I know Halloween is supposed to be all about scary imagery, but this is just so many levels of wrong. And that is about as polite as I can stand for this one. I could post a few jack o’lantern mishaps, but I think y’all get the general idea of just how spectacularly wrong the algorithm can be on some of these.

Text-to-image digital art of – ME!

One day last week, I had an “Ah-ha!” moment and decided to see what kind of software-generated digital image I could get from the text prompt describing me. Hold your laughter now. I started off with the text prompt “middle-aged woman with short blonde hair,” and ended up with this:

ugly image from what ought to be a straightforward text prompt
how I feel first thing in the morning

OK, now y’all can have a good laugh. Apparently, punctuation is important, and that hyphen in middle-aged must have messed the algorithm up good and proper. Granted, there are definitely mornings when I might feel like this, but I don’t usually look quite this rough (or so my husband says). So I tried “mature woman with short blond hair,” and the second time I got an image I am now using as my “face” here on the internet.

the internet me, from text-to-image digital art program

Now, she doesn’t look like she’s about to celebrate her 50th birthday like I am, but most of the female figures the software spits out look to be no older than 25, and most look like they could be movie stars, so an image that brings to mind Florence Henderson from The Brady Bunch probably fits the program’s parameters for mature. I like the simulated brushstrokes for it as well. Her eyes are the wrong color and she isn’t wearing glasses “thick enough to see into the future,” but she’ll be my face for the internet for now.

While the text-to-image programs used to generate digital art are far from perfect, every once in a while you get a good result. I can’t see it replacing us traditional artists any time soon, but for now it is an amusing novelty. I may just use it as a way to test composition ideas or to get inspiration. Mostly, I am just playing with it because it amuses me.