Kathy Salter is an artist of the 21st century. Using a combination of classical and computerized techniques, she transforms photographs into large-scale, interpretive paintings.
Born to a pair of professional photographers, Salter grew up in her parents' studio - now Daly and Salter Photography in Savannah - surrounded by images created through the unique interaction between man and machine.
Now as an adult, she has found a way to take that interaction - and the family business - a bit farther. Using photographs, software programs and acrylic paints, Salter creates what she calls "impressionistic renderings."
"I take an image, whether it be from a professional photographer or just a snapshot, and I analyze the picture so I can get an idea of what I want it to become," said Salter.
Then, in a program called Corel Painter, she uses electronic brushes and color palettes to create the final image. When it's complete, a laboratory prints it onto canvas, and Salter adds brushstrokes and texture with acrylic paints.
Salter has spoken about her art at engagements and events throughout Richmond Hill, and many of her paintings feature local residents.
Each rendering takes Salter nearly six weeks to complete.
"It's very tedious work. Every little detail is gone over - eyelashes, eyes, everything," she said. "Just like an artist would sit at their canvas and work, I sit at my computer and work."
One example of Salter's work is a study she painted for her mother from a photograph of an old wooden home in Pulaski.
"I found a photograph of the house my mom had grown up in. It had become broken down and dilapidated over the years, but I reinterpreted it in the way that she remembered it," said Salter. "When my mother saw it, she was just in awe. It really meant something to both of us."
Salter's work is unique because it walks the line between photography, technology and art.
"I have to find the balance," she said. "At what point does the photograph end and the painting begin?"
Salter said she encounters a lot of misconceptions about her art.
"When I say ‘painting,' the first thing that pops into people's minds is that I'm spending all day sitting in front of an easel and canvas. I feel that what I'm doing is still painting, I just don't go about it with traditional techniques."
While developing her own techniques, Salter studied with classically trained artists and researched art history through books and museums.
She said that impressionism, epitomized by such artists as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, has especially influenced her artwork.
"I took what I learned from teachers and traditional artists and put my own spin on it. I've studied their style, pulled from it what I like and then improvised my own style from that," she said. "With computers, I can pull from the artists of old and add new flavors and dimensions."
Her work can be seen at her website, www.impressionsbykathy.com, and at the Daly and Salter Photography studio in Savannah.