Friday, 24 July 2015


The front door to our house is set within a surround of tongue-and-groove wood panels and large leaded-lights of a very typical 1930s design.  Many thousands of suburban houses built in that decade will have the same or some very similar arrangement.  It lets in a lot of light, which gives a nice, airy feel to the entrance hall and staircase.  None of the panes of glass in the leaded sections are coloured, as in some houses of this vintage, but the pattern does use about six varieties of clear "pebbled" glass, which means you can't see through from the outside.

For a long time I have intended to produce a template of these three windows -- one within the top of the door, and two large ones either side.  They're made with quite an interesting sub-Art Deco design, which has a way of imprinting itself on your retina as an afterimage.  I finally got around to making this template recently and when the reality is abstracted into its basic shapes it look like this:

Producing a template was not as straightforward as I'd imagined, though, as it turned out to be tricky getting into a position where a camera could be pointed directly square-on at the door and include all three windows without distortion.  I was also unwilling to clear out of the way all the coats, boxes, and various other obstacles blocking the view.  So to get to the desired end result required much tweaking of perspective, and digital elimination and restoration of unwanted and missing elements before the relatively simple job of blacking out the solid parts and whiteing out the glass could take place.  It's not perfect, but then the real thing is not perfect either: like most Southampton houses, ours has been subject to subsidence due to the unstable underlying geology and bomb shocks from the 1940 Blitz.  Parallel lines are the exception, rather than the rule; if anything, this is an improvement on reality.

Why did I want to do this?  Because I thought it might be an evocative set of shapes to play with in Photoshop.  Using the magic of layers and "clipping masks", it is possible to combine different foregrounds and backgrounds in ways that play with ideas of interior and exterior, frame and subject, etc.  As I'm going to be away from home for the next ten days, I thought I'd schedule a series of posts of these experiments.  Make of them what you can!

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