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P.O. Box 2301
Estes Park, Co 80517

The 2016 Windows to the West Art Show and Sale convenes more than 50 of the country's top contemporary Western heritage artists in one of the most beautiful mountain settings in America at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The three-day sale and exhibition in Estes Park, Colorado, June 3-5, showcases more than 200 new pieces of art, with rich opportunities to meet the artists and discuss their unique depictions of Western landscapes, wildlife and traditional Western American life.  Windows to the West is a charitable benefit event sponsored by the Estes Park Western Heritage Foundation.

Works in Progress

Faces & Light: Portraits of the West

Cindy Long

I have been working on the face and hands of this pretty cowgirl. As I mentioned before, these are the most challenging and important parts of the drawing.  I will spend more time on these than any other element. (Click images for enlarged view.)

Moving Along: Clothing and Gear

As I worked on her hands, I also worked on her shirt and arms, bringing out the folds of the fabric, and the play of light upon it. Her profile is still not quite where I want it to be, so I will still need to finish and refine it later.  I will keep going back into her face and hands, but for now, I’ll move on to her lower half.

Next is the belt buckle, the top of her jeans, and her chaps. Using the photo of her on horseback in her chaps, I can cross reference that with my own photo of her in her jeans to see how the light falls on her legs. 

I do like the addition of the chaps. They add a nice look, and the fringe will repeat the pattern of the hay when it is drawn in, and the conchos on the legs add interest.

There are lots of different textures and elements going on here: the shine of her belt buckle, the denim of her jeans, and the smooth leather of her chaps.  I use a variety of stumps as well as my pencils to depict the different textures and details. 

Finally, I have the full figure done. I will still need to finish and add detail to her face, but all the basics are there. Next, on to the hay!

HAY! HAY! HAY!

The hay comes more easily than I thought it would. I use one of my stumps to draw in the darks and mid tones of the straw bits, and use the kneaded eraser to lift out highlights, and to “draw” the straws here and there. 

Slowly, but surely, the hay is filling in the background.

The darker value of the hay makes a nice contrasting backdrop to the figure of the cowgirl, and makes her stand out against it.

Final Touches

This final stage is the “tweaking” stage. I go back into the drawing, adding details, adding darks and lights where needed, and making small changes to strengthen the drawing. I soften some of the shadows and angles on her face that were in my original reference photo.

Often I have to set the drawing aside for several days and look at it with fresh eyes to catch things that might be wrong or correct those “somethings” that are bothering me. 

I go back into her face and hands and work on them some more.  Finally, her profile is like I want it, and I think that the contrast between the light and shadow on her face hits the right balance between being soft, yet illuminating her thoughtful face. 

Now, I can evaluate the drawing as a whole, deciding if it is saying what I hoped it would say, portraying the mood and emotion I wanted to portray when I started the drawing a few weeks before.  

Illumination

Last, but not least, I need a title.  This is always a challenge.  Sometimes they come easily, sometimes they even come before the drawing is begun. Most take a lot of consideration.

I study this sweet cowgirl, as she looks into the light, lost in her own meditations, and decide to call it: Illumination.

"Illumination"  by Cindy Long

"Illumination" is one of five portraits  in graphite by Cindy Long that will be shown at the Windows to the West Art Show and Sale.  View all those works, their specifications and prices in Cindy's artist profile.