Friday, January 20, 2012

In real life, they're in bed by nine o'clock.

A switch for this year's official Beechey holiday card. Having done the better Beatles album covers -- the ones we could actually recreate rather than just superimpose faces on the existing artwork -- we opted for the fine arts. (See Don't step on it, it might be Ringo and Won't you please, please have a Merry Christmas.

And so the young gentlemen and gentlebitch went the way of many good parodies before them and populated Edward Hopper's corner coffee shop* from his 1942 masterpiece "Nighthawks."

We gave up on trying to connect it to the season -- my suggestion of "Hoppery New Year" eliciting winces even from the dog -- and just let it stand. But despite this, we still got quite a few generous compliments from recipients, which is the whole point of spending time on these customized greetings: to swagger back into my friends' good graces and completely expunge their awareness that I do a lousy job of keeping in touch at other times during the year.

A lot of people asked how it was done. Answer: Photoshop, of course.

Start with photographs of the boys and Leila in the same poses as the people in Hopper's original, and with comparable overhead lighting. (That's Leila in my kitchen.) Cut out their silhouettes, then run them through Photoshop's dry brush filter until the resolution and "painterliness" matches Hopper's brushwork. Then eliminate those original characters, like the server in the middle picture. Finally, drop the interlopers into the gaps, with extra background if necessary. The server's reflection in the counter's surface actually works for the beast, whose name now graces the outside of the establishment.

Next year, Veronese's massive canvas "Wedding at Cana," featuring the entire eighth grade of Rye Middle School.

(And all this work, just because I didn't want to take on "Sergeant Pepper.")

*Despite getting snapped up by the Chicago Art Institute almost immediately after it first appeared, the picture shows a coffee shop on the corner of Greenwich Avenue, Manhattan, the boys' borough of birth.

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