Prints that Win: Chaotic Profiling

Sunset Print Award“I like surrealism,” says Elaine Hughes. That much is evident in Hughes’ Sunset Print Award-winning piece entitled Chaotic Profiling. Hughes also won a Sunset Print Award in 2013 for the surreal and aptly titled Dream World.

Chosen by judges at the recent PhotoPro Expo 2015 Print Competition in Covington, Ky., Chaotic Profiling was hard to overlook, and look again to catch all the subtleties in the dreamlike world Hughes created.

“There are many ways to interpret life. In this image we see the profile of the main subject intertwined with a secondary version of itself. This way of looking at things can create chaotic thoughts. The concept of my image is the end result,” says Hughes.

Note the child enjoying his time by the ear of the main figure. “Maybe he lives here in this strange, chaotic and magical place,” adds Hughes.

Hughes’ surreal dreamscapes take months to create as she gathers photos she takes on her travels with her husband and former Sunset Print Award winner Robert Hughes and combines them into one cohesive (or chaotic, as the case may be) image.

“I take photographs everywhere I go. It could be something in the hotel room, outside the door, or anything I find interesting that I might be able to use. I also study a lot of animated films and art for inspiration,” she says.

All the photographs are combined in Photoshop and blended in multiple layers. With hue and saturation Hughes finds just the right color scheme to convey her concept. For this one, the plays on blue seemed just right to her.

Prints that Win: Playing Card

Playing Card by Robert HughesAlmost a year ago we profiled the surreal digital art of Elaine Hughes, who won a Sunset Print Award for Dream World. This year, Elaine’s husband, Robert, enters the fray with his Sunset Print Award-winning image entitled Playing Card.

As noted in last year’s profile, both Elaine and Robert have focused their photography toward digital fine art. In the case of Playing Card, Robert says he photographs objects and scenes that might be interesting as part of a surreal digital scene.

He comes up with a concept and calls up other pieces and parts to create an interesting whole. For Playing Card, the focus is (surprise!)… a playing card. It’s a card he picked up at the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas some years back and photographed.

Add a couple of patterned backgrounds and part of a Christmas ornament (the legs of the flamingo), do some Photoshop magic, and Voila!, a print that intrigued the judges so much it scored a 100 at the Professional Photographers of Ohio competition.

Robert has varied interests, and magic is something he dabbled in as a teenager. He’s also an accomplished blues guitar player, currently on a world tour with his band Teeny Tucker. This combination of creative endeavors feeds his photography and digital fine art.

“I usually have some deep psychological meaning behind my work, but this is just a playful image,” he says. “I photograph elements that I store away in the back of my mind. I may be working with an image and remember that I photographed something that would work well. Images tell me what they want to be; I try to be open and listen. If we listen hard enough the image will tell us what it wants to be, and this was one of those.”

Prints that Win: Dream World

Electronic Imaging Fine Art by Elaine Hughes

Elaine and Robert Hughes made a dramatic shift in their photography and art about five years ago. Highly decorated and certified professional photographers who used to specialize in high-end wedding photography, the pair now specializes in creating surreal digital artwork.

The pair’s work is an anticipated addition to the various competitions they’ve entered. This past year, Elaine Hughes won a LexJet Sunset Award at the PPA North East District competition for Illustrative Artist. The award-winning print, called Dream World, is a wildly colorful example of Elaine’s original art.

“Lately I’ve developed a series connected with water and dreams. It’s chaotic, disconnected and fun, with symbolism you can’t really put your finger on, like in your dreams. I left it open to your own interpretation. The door, for instance, could be the girl’s next journey, your next journey, or you could go in and out of the dream through that door,” Elaine explains.

Elaine says developing the art is quite time-consuming, but it’s what she loves to do. It’s a bonus that the art sells, she auctions it off for charity and it wins awards. The images combine photographs Elaine takes when she’s out and about at various locations across the country with color and abstract work in Photoshop.

“Bob’s art is edgier, while mine is happier and dreamier,” Elaine says. “I create backgrounds all the time with texture and color. About half the time I have an idea and the other half I experiment. It just doesn’t happen; I work on these for a long time. I go to a lot of Photoshop classes and watch Bob do his work in Photoshop. I wish I had started doing this a long time ago.”