Revisit A Canvas: Memory

Hi friends. While I wait for Takashima inspiration to hit, I’m revisiting some old canvases, with a twist. It’s been 5 years since I took my first Sebastian Michaels Photoshop Artistry class. My skills have come a long way and I’m heading towards the next evolution: creating all the elements of my work.

Today I’m taking another crack at “Memory of a Kiss,” features my Dollshe SA Hound Alec, Elfdoll Special K Kaneda and my Dollmore Special Lilis Liv hybrid Grayson.

Here is the original image. It’s dark and moody and seems like a sad memory. The idea was to capture someone lost in a memory. Alec was shot against a dark brown background using my Canon Rebel and 50 mm lens. Kaneda and Grayson were shot against a white sheet, extracted and layered and masked in. My original intention was for this to be Alec’s memory so Kaneda and Grayson were used as a placeholder.

Memory of a Kiss, v1

But I forgot that as I worked on this version: adding my image of a bird in a tree, a Color Lookup layer (Late Sunset) and a 2 Lil Owls Angelic 7 background. I was going to stop there and wrote the first draft of this post. Still not happy with the canvas. In the original post, I spell out all my issues.

I like the color/mood shift. Alec has a slight smile that is more visible here, giving a happy memory feel. I don’t like my placeholder couple. Alec isn’t in Takashima but the image of Keaton and Grayson is a prominent image in the story.

Memory of a Kiss v2

I created a background using my own images: scanned canvas paper, the bird in the tree, blue sky and interesting clouds, part of the Seattle downtown skyline from Kinnear Park and an image from Photoshop Artistry of bats at sunset (I still need to capture a flock of birds in flight). The composite background (without the canvas) was run through PhotographyBB Illustrated, adding Fine and Large details.

With all the shoots needed for Takashima, I’ve developed a system to quickly set up a scene. I reshot the memory figures with Alec and Rowan, Elfdoll Reminiscence Soah using my Lensbaby Velvet 56, for a soft, dreamy feel. I added some blushing to cheeks, eyes and knuckles, which got lost in all the color overlays. It’s subtle and yes, they’re dolls, but my goal with my bjd photography is downplay that they’re dolls by removing visible joints and enhancing their skin tone.

“Memory” Late Sunset version

Version 3 is much closer to what I’m after. The warmth of the Late Sunset color lookup toned down due to the blue sky and clouds layer. It is now Alec’s memory, as intended. Rowan’s eyes are closed and Alec’s are nearly closed, which creates a more intimate moment. Rowan’s hand reaching for Alec’s cheek mirrors the main image of Alec touching his own cheek.

In setting up this shoot, Alec and Rowan worked well together. They didn’t fight me or flop around. I know that sounds weird as they are inanimate objects, but I’ve abandoned ideas because the dolls weren’t cooperating. Alec and Rowan are apparently a couple that can have their own adventures. As a fan of the Toy Story movies, I wonder what my dolls are up to at night.

There’s a lot of personal symbolism in the image. However, like Jim Jarmusch, I don’t feel it’s my job to tell you what my art is about so I renamed the canvas “Memory”. It’s for you to experience and draw your own conclusions.

Happy creating!

The updated version of “Memory” is available for purchase at my RedBubble shop in a variety of formats.


  1. Thank you! I don’t really keep track of my time. Some come together quickly while others take so many hours. I think “Memory” is in the latter category. I estimate “Memory” took between 10-15 hours and includes 3 photo shoots, 2 versions of the file and creating the background overlays. On the next image I work on and post, I’ll keep more details on the time spent shooting and editing.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your journey to “Memory” and absolutely love how it turned out!! I have and am enjoying your art and am glad that you post and blog about it. I had no idea how much work goes into pieces like this and appreciate the amount of thought and consideration you put into each one. Two notes – love the animal button on Alec, and I too am a fan of Toy Story movies making me wonder what happens when I’m not around.

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