Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Fort Apache Courier

March 9, 2011

Grabbed a landscape study out of my failure pile and added a rider, tweaked the bushes and overworked the dust before I came into work. It's called "Fort Apache Courier," taken from a reference photo I took on a trip with Paul Andrew Hutton to San Carlos and back to Fort Apache.

Here is the study as it appeared in my failure pile. I must have had it for at least five years. I met Paul Hutton at the Hondah Apache Casino and Resort for an Arizona History Convention to work on Mickey Free. While we walked through the woods and argued about plot points, it came up that Paul had never been to San Carlos. I told him we could fix that in a couple hours, so we got in his car and drove from the White Mountains (where Fort Apache is) down into the Gila River Valley to San Carlos. After lunch at the Apache Gold Casino (ironic because the Apaches allegedly hated gold hunting miners and would kill them on sight, although now that I think about it, perhaps they are still making a killing. Ha.), we drove back to the White Mountains. As we topped out on the Mogollon Rim above the Salt River Canyon, the shadows began to lengthen and I whipped out my new digital camera and started shooting everything I could see (movie folks call this the magic hour). This study, done soon after I got back, is from one of those photos:

It must have resided in my failure pile for at least five years. This morning I was inspired by two things: one, I wanted to post something here and the other works in progress images weren't done, and two, I thought I could finally see a rider in that dust at left, just beyond the dark shadows. Here's how it looks now that I added the rider and tweaked the color:

One of things I've learned in the last year is that color almost always trumps realism. In this case I rendered the big foreground shadow in grays and black (in the first one), but for the second I added turquoise blue which softens the shadow so we can see vegetation in the shadows. So, while the first one is more accurate to the reference photo, the second one in more atmospheric. The background vegetation is the same in both scans, but the first one looks redder and this is a function of scanning (I must have chosen a different "curve" on the first scan). All in all, a successful gamble. I must also note that time was of the essence. I would have loved to have spent more time on this but I was late for work with a ton of things to do here, and that forced me to make decisions on the fly. I'll leave it to you as to the wisdom of the decisions, but the pressure to finish gives it a certain freshness and fluidity. Do you agree?

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."
—Edwin Land

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