Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Judy Horn: Brushstrokes

While driving with her family in Norway, Horn noticed this serene composition in a canal and turned the resulting photo into “Quiet Waters.” While driving with her family in Norway, Horn noticed this serene composition in a canal and turned the resulting photo into “Quiet Waters.”
© Judy Horn

Judy Horn uses digital technology to blur the line between photograph and painting.

Some have called it "photo painting." Others have suggested "painting with photographs" or even "artography." For Tacoma, Wash., photographer Judy Horn, it's a good living.

For two decades, Horn has been making digital magic with her photos, turning them into virtual paintings with the help of computer editing and graphics programs. Along with these stylized landscapes, she has developed a healthy business creating customized portraits and restoring old and damaged photos with digital tools.

With a background in oil and watercolor painting, Horn says she finds the transition from photograph to painting to be a very natural process. "With today's software, it's really so similar to painting that it seems like the only difference is not having to clean up afterwards," she adds.

Interested in photography throughout high school, Horn developed her interest in painting at the University of Washington's Fine Arts School and Weber State College in Ogden, Utah. After marrying a career Air Force officer, she traveled extensively with him for about 20 years, visting 28 states and four countries. While the travel may have been stressful, Horn says the experience helped her amass a huge collection of stock images from around the world.

In 1982, she made her first steps into the digital realm by videotaping a projection of a slide on a wall and downloading the video feed into a computer. Then, after editing the photo with a now-ancient program called Easel, she would take another photo of the computer screen to get a final image.

"Yes, it was that primitive," she laughs. "Even so, I absolutely fell in love with the technique."
Today she uses the latest version of Photoshop to do most of her editing and Corel Painter to achieve the brush-like strokes and enhanced colors of her finished images. She uses a Wacom tablet and stylus, much as one would use a pen or a paintbrush to draw on a canvas.

Her work has won her accolades from various Northwest photo organizations, including three Best of Category awards for a Seattle Professional Photographers Association competition and a Best in Show award from the 2002 Professional Photographers of Washington state competition. Her art can currently be viewed at Tacoma's Art Concepts on Broadway, the Wene' Gallery in Portland, Ore., or on her website — www.horngraphics.com.

Randy Woods
Story Author: Randy Woods

Randy Woods, editor of PhotoMedia, has been in the magazine publishing world for more than 20 years, covering such varied topics as photography, insurance, business startups, environmental issues and newspaper publishing. He is also associate editor for iSixSigma magazine and writes a job—search blog for The Seattle Times called “Hire Ground.”

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