As a travel photographer, my eyes are always wide open and alert, receptive to the emotions and messages being transmitted by everything around me.
I find it invigorating to capture raw images and then interpret them during the creative post-processing phase, transforming them into my own vision. I like to think that I convey stories, emotions, and messages through my artsy photos.
Discovering “painterly style”
I started a new technique in early 2017. After experimenting with some previously unexplored software I’d installed on my computer (Topaz Impression), I discovered a “painterly photograph” style that piqued my interest.
This painterly style provided a completely different end product and feeling to the image. It is not a pure photograph, nor is it a painting. It is a photograph digitally rendered into a painting. This was the first time I had manipulated my raw images into something that no longer resembled a photograph, and it led to the creation of my “Feeding the Fire” canvas print.
Speaking to people on a deeper level
At the time, I had no idea how popular or significant this print was going to become—not just to people within my local territory, but also across Canada, particularly for those who are connected to Aboriginal culture.
For them, this image reflects culture, ceremony, sound (drum, prayer songs, fire crackling), healing, connection with the Creator and ancestors, and so much more.
My work seemed to speak to others on a deeper level. Here’s what a Northwest Territories Trauma Counselor said about it:
“Believing art to be a significant facet of the therapeutic experience, I can affirm Tawna’s work has indeed impacted those who have interacted with this piece visually but also on a much larger scale–within their interior.
“Tawna’s distinct artistic voice carries the power to heal on individual and communal levels…”
This is why I love photography; it is such a powerful, creative, and emotive form of communication.
Plus, there’s the added bonus of payment. Since May 2017, the canvas print has sold 13 times in various sizes (that’s $3,400 USD in sales) and has been shipped across Canada.
It has been gifted to a retiree, a mother, an Archbishop, and several wedding couples. It is hanging in a counseling office, an elders’ center, and the office of a Commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The largest print, a 60×90” vinyl banner, hangs in the entrance of an elementary school, along with another of my painterly photograph prints of the same size.
Learning to use this software didn’t require lessons or tutorials: instead, I simply played around with the program until I felt satisfied with what I’d created.
This new style seems to be working out for me. So far, I’ve sold 37 painterly photograph prints, ranging in size from 12×18” to 60×90.”
People find my work through a variety of means: I have a large selection of my photographic prints hanging at a local coffee shop (this has provided me with great exposure), I regularly post on my photography Facebook page, and I also participated in my city’s local annual trade show.
Tips for creating and selling
Play around, explore, and discover new things. This will help you develop your own style. You can take tutorials, and you can also do what I did—press buttons and see what happens! Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Also, choose images that your primary audience can relate to. Then, find a popular location in your hometown to exhibit/sell your work, such as a café, restaurant, bank, or dentist’s office. I have my work displayed at a large local coffee shop where I have around 15 prints that I regularly rotate.
Participate in craft fairs and markets, and consider temporarily loaning your artwork to an organization situated in a high traffic area.
Make posters of your new “releases” and post them on bulletin boards around town. Create a short video with a selection of your prints for sale or a mock-up room that shows your artwork on display.
And most importantly, have fun creating your original works of art!