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  • Writer's pictureMikael Svanstrom

An AI model creating new artworks based on my father's paintings

My father created beautiful artwork that had this amazing sense of calmness to them - reflecting I think him as a person.

Whilst the subjects of his paintings were varied, he returned time and time again to the Gothenburg archipelago. Rocky islands with red houses, a lighthouse maybe, a fishing boat or two, seagulls flying across the sky.

I've been playing around with AI generated art and wanted to see how complicated it would be to create a new model and train it. So what better base material than my father's paintings - as a tribute to him?

So could I train an AI model with enough images that it could create alternative Henry Svanström originals? Well, you be the judge...

I had about 20 images of paintings to work with and here are some of them to give you an idea of the style and in some cases the images weren't exactly aligned so the perspective on some are a bit off.

To get you all to appreciate the Gothenburg archipelago, my father's paintings and how good the AI model is, here are a few images generated by another AI model in different styles of the same type of scenes. First a crayon, then an oil painting and finally a children's crayon.

So how did it go?

I've run this model a fair few times, fascinated with how good (and bad) it is. So I've taken my favourites in both categories and even thrown in another category for free!

The good

Here I've collected a few that I feel retains the soul of my father's paintings without adding to much else that takes away from it.

I really like this one. The green roof on the white and red lighthouse was a nice touch. The prompt I wrote asked for three houses and I only got one, but maybe they are close by. I'm willing to accept that fault on the merit of the lighthouse alone.

Here is another one I feel really capture the same serenity and calm I was hoping for. The prompt was "A red lighthouse on an island and calm-waters at dawn" And I think this is exactly what I got. Sure, there is a weird little pole next to the strangely small lighthouse and an odd box in the foreground, but they don't take over the way they do in other ones (see the next sections!).

The bad

It was actually difficult to find really bad ones. Most has some quality that brought them from bad to odd or even strangely beautiful.

I don't actually mind this one, but considering I asked for an island with a tall red house, a lighthouse and a boat, I don't think it really delivered. The shades are quite nice though with the horizon perceptible only through the change in colour to a pretty bold purple...

Not sure what is going on here. Is the roof coming off? Is is the periscope of a Russian submarine to the left? What the red little box in the middle of the painting? Is the water behind the house green or is it a patch of grass? So many questions!

The plain odd

This is probably my favourite category.

So what is going on here? I didn't ask for lollipop/crayon lighthouses. I didn't ask for a giant stick poking up from its own little island. I do appreciate it tried to get a shadow in that made sense though. A point or two for trying.

And maybe I'm being to picky here, but surely lighthouses shouldn't be this close to each other? Seems pointless to me to have two of them on the same little rocky outcrop. Intelligence indeed!

The prompt for this image was "An island with a lone red house and a fishing boat in the foreground". So let's see. Is there an island? Is there a lone red house? Is there a fishing boat? I'd argue no to all, but I guess that is up to interpretation.

And what is that strange box-shape lurking ominously on the horizon? It is in stark contrast to the soft lines of the rest of the painting. This is the calm before the storm I'm thinking.

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