May 9, 2015 by katmcdaniel
Technology constantly creates tools, but we seldom explore their full artistic potential. Pioneer Ellen Hoverkamp makes art with a scanner.
Ellen Hoverkamp began making photographic images with her flatbed scanner in 1997, enjoying the dramatic three dimensional look which she has further developed with such elegance. Her images have a very classic feel, often recalling Victorian botanical illustrations. She’s also influenced by Dutch and Flemish still life painters, who captured so beautifully the varied forms, roundnesses and angles of food, flowers and other objects. The marriage of modern technology with romantic form is delightful and full of surprises. Sometimes the pieces contain allegory or humor that is completely disarming. Most are incredibly, lump in the throat beautiful.
Hoverkamp usually brings her subjects to the scanner, but she has been known to set up in the wild. She has been invited by gardeners to pick and photograph their produce and flowers, while others have given her feathers and eggs or lent their shell or nest collections for photographic preservation. The collaborative element of the work is something she finds inspiring and fulfilling. She turned to scanner art at a time in her life when her creativity was frustrated and she felt the need to make things. The artistic community she discovered encouraged her and brought joy to her life. She pays that joy forward to those she encounters on her journey. Both the need to create and the love of artistic community ring a bell here at synkroniciti and make Hoverkamp a very inspirational figure for me.
I found there was a robust community of good people and it is something I can do in the margins of available time. I’m an evangelist for making the art that fits into your life, so if your life changes you may have to change media but never stop making stuff. –Ellen Hoverkamp
So how does Hoverkamp make these stunning images? She uses an Epson Expression 11000XL Graphic Arts Flatbed Scanner. This is a very advanced machine which Epson sells for $2,500. You can see why–the clarity and resolution is outstanding. The folks at Epson probably didn’t imagine bird’s nests, eggs, flowers and produce being subject matter, but I’m sure they are proud of what Hoverkamp does with their product. She makes a sort of collage on the scanner glass. This may require propping up, weighing down or suspending items. She then builds the image composition, making several passes and adjusting the settings on the scanner itself. She makes further adjustments in Photoshop and then prints the images on archival media. The entire process involves a great deal of trial and error. Hoverkamp’s persistence and experimentation provide amazing results.
So often we use technology in the way prescribed, never stopping to consider other possibilities. I’m so glad Hoverkamp did so.
We’ve chosen to focus on her Nesting Still Life series, but there is so much more. Check out more of her work, including delicious folios of edibles and wonderful flowers, on her website. You can also read an insightful interview here. What an artist!