Sunday, July 4, 2010

Journey to Horse Creek

Thank you Gary Keimig for allowing me to use your photo from Horse Creek as the reference! It’s been a month getting here. First, I was enamored of Gary’s photo, but wasn’t really sure what was drawing me to it. Maybe it's that I’m a mountain girl at heart and here I saw what could have been my beloved Appalachia and the Rugged Rockies in a single view. At any rate, I wanted to explore this image, and an expedition it became.

11x17" Soft Pastels on Wallis Museum Grade paper

I took the image into Photoshop and just pushed the contrast and brightness a little. That revealed the shadow lines and the lay of the land in the foreground. Wishing to avoid all the detail of the brush, I simplified the image to value masses and decided to try it as a representational abstract in watercolor. Enjoyed this, but the clouds were a disaster. Removed and tried again until I finally ruined it and gave it up for lost.

 Gary Keimig's Photo from Horse Creek

Determined not to be beaten, I returned to Photoshop just to play and see what I could discover with the painting tools as I had not yet used them. In my mucking around I happened to create a pale yellow sky where there was none at all, and THAT inspired the treatment you see here.  I saw a late (or early) thunderstorm moving off east, with a clear yellow sky, and cloud tailings being pulled away into the retreating clouds. That gave me excuse for the light on the golden hill, and a way to tie the bottom of the image to the top. This time in Pastels.

Update 08.03.10
I have been living with this piece for several weeks and love it more very day, though until today, I was unable to say why. Now I know. I like that the distant mountains seem to be so 'other worldy' as if from a dream. This picture speaks to me in metaphor, the 'mental' clouds beginning to lift the veil between what is beneath my feet and what could lie in my future. Solid obstacles lie between, but so does a path from here to there...and so the name should be simply 'Clearing.'


  1. I love how you tweaked the photo and your finished piece. I especially like how you made the clouds so alive.

  2. Well, thank you Nancy. I appreciate that you took the time to consider and comment.

    There is such a stylized look about this piece that I really wasn't sure what to think about it. I keep trying to figure out what's wrong with it...and it's either everything...or nothing. I could use some qualified opinions!

  3. Is amazing how you used my photo to create your image. I think that is what is so fun doing my wilderness art challenge. How differnet folks envision what is put befor them. Great job Carol Anne.

  4. Hi Carol Anne,
    I, too, really like what you did with this piece and I agree that it has a very stylized look -something many artist work very hard to find :).

    I hope I am not overstepping your request for opinions...but in the light of trying to help; I suggest knocking back the color saturation and lighten the value a tad on the red trees a bit so they recede to establish a stronger middle-ground. Of course, you can always try it photoshop first if you think it a worthy idea.

  5. Thanks Gary, I'm glad you're not too shocked with the direction.

    And Sandy, thanks for the the tips, I really do appreciate them. It's so obvious...but I don't think I would have thought to use PS to test an idea for the painting.

  6. Really enjoyed scrolling though your blog and seeing how you interpreted various images with exciting shots of color!

  7. Welcome,Claire. Thanks for commenting!