Local digital artist holds solo Rocky River showcase in North Olmsted

Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Nature Center, 24000 Valley Pkwy. in North Olmsted, is hosting a different kind of artist in May and June.

Through June 30, Ken Long will display his digital art at the nature center as part of its Rocky River Nature Center Gallery Wall program.

The images, Long said, have been altered by digital software and run through a neural net computer program.

“It takes a base image, typically, it’s a photograph, and combines it with another image,” he said. “A lot of times, (the other image) is a painting, or it’s another photograph that’s a bit different, and it combines the two.

“It basically takes your original photograph and adjusts it.”

Long’s artwork previously was displayed at Carlisle Reservation, 12882 Diagonal Road in LaGrange.

Ken Long's altered photograph,
Ken Long’s altered photograph, “Wavy Top Tree,” will be on display through June 30 at the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Nature Center, 24000 Valley Pkwy. in North Olmsted. (Submitted)

He said that since then, he has added quite a few new pieces to his artistic portfolio. That being said, he uses the same style on most, if not all, of his work.

“There’s some newer stuff I’ve done as well that’s here, but the technique I use is (still) the technique I use,” Long said.

He said he has experimented with artificial intelligence “text to image” software, but has nothing to show the public yet.

In fact, the process for creating neural net art is a surprisingly lengthy one, Long said.

“It’s also a lot of fun to do, because it’s very hit or miss,” he said. “You’ll do 30 (alterations) and only one or two look kind of interesting.

“So, you take those, and you work with those, and you edit those further, and you come up with the final result then.”

Long said his goal as an artist, especially when using this software, is to bring out features in everyday objects that might go unnoticed by the naked eye.

He calls it “bringing out the artifacts” in a photo, and said that even with a computer’s help, the process can be a bit tedious.

“It’s fast, in a way, because you’re dealing with a computer, and you put it in there and it takes a few minutes to go through the process and spit it out,” Long said. “But, you have to do a lot of it to get something that looks good.”

According to Long, many of his altered photographs have a dream state-esque quality to them, which is another desired effect.

“The one image is called ‘Wavy Top Tree,’” he said. “It was actually a black and white picture of the top of a tree.

“It was shot during the winter months. (The software) brings out some interesting features of the tree that you might not think about, if you just saw the picture of the branches themselves.”

The exhibit at Rocky River Nature Center will run through June 30, Long said.

The showcase, he said, is completely free.

For those who cannot make it, Long added that the nature center already has invited him back for another exhibit next year.

Additionally, Long will have an artist meet-and-greet event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., May 28, at the Rocky River Nature Center.

Once again, tickets will be free for the Sunday event.

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