Fine Art Storytelling: Dorothy in Oz

Three or four years ago, I was driving down 72 West toward Huntsville, in Alabama.  The music was blaring, and the road stretched before me in perfect, late Spring glory.  If you've ever traveled down this stretch of country highway, you'll know it's possibly the most beautiful patch of Alabama, rolling hills and low mountains hugging every curve, weathered barns scattered here and there in fields of growing cotton and soybeans.

It was one such field that captured my attention on this particular day: a rich golden sea of freshly bloomed canola blossoms, a ripe red barn nestled amid the rolling yellow, the scene crowned with brilliant blue sky.  

Suddenly, a vision:  an allusion to the yellow brick road, Dorothy lost in that field, and the frightening foreshadowing of events to come.  For just a flash, my imagination ran wild, combining my love of "The Wizard of Oz", my personal experience with tornados (they're very common in Alabama), and a snatch of memory from my college days, studying American artist Andrew Wyeth and his masterful painting "Christina's World".  At that moment I knew I needed to create this vision of mine.

 "From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Uncle Henry and Dorothy could see where the long grass bowed in waves before the coming storm. There now came a sharp whistling in the air from the south, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw ripples in the grass coming from that direction also."   ― L. Frank Baum,  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

"From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Uncle Henry and Dorothy could see where the long grass bowed in waves before the coming storm. There now came a sharp whistling in the air from the south, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw ripples in the grass coming from that direction also." 

― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

 "Christina's World", Andrew Wyeth, 1948, MOMA

"Christina's World", Andrew Wyeth, 1948, MOMA

I secured my model, the lovely dancer Sarah Catherine, purchased wardrobe and a few small props, and scouted out the perfect location.  The photo session went off without a hitch, resulting in many beautiful images.

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But ever the perfectionist, I was forced to shelve my original idea until I had the additional necessary ingredients to craft it solidly -- namely a believable cyclone dramatic enough to convey the richness of my vision.

 "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." ― L. Frank Baum,  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

 "Well, how would  you  like to have someone come along and pick something off of  you ?" ―  The Wizard of Oz , 1939

"Well, how would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?" ― The Wizard of Oz, 1939

And then photographer Ashley Kirkland invited me to sample one of her photo overlays: a twister.  I was elated to see that her creations were so realistic, and so easy to work with.  Finally, I had all the necessary ingredients to finish the image -- and with it, an additional art history reference from another American painter, Grant Wood's "American Gothic".

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 "American Gothic", Grant Wood, 1930,  Art Institute of Chicago

"American Gothic", Grant Wood, 1930, Art Institute of Chicago

I'm so pleased to share these images with you now, a complete Storytelling set.  I hope you enjoy them, and that they take you back to that wonderful place you most likely visited as a child, as I did:  the land of Oz.  

 "They now came upon more and more of the big scarlet poppies, and fewer and fewer of the other flowers; and soon they found themselves in the midst of a great meadow of poppies. Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever. But Dorothy did not know this, nor could she get away from the bright red flowers that were everywhere about; so presently her eyes grew heavy and she felt she must sit down to rest and to sleep."   ― L. Frank Baum,  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

"They now came upon more and more of the big scarlet poppies, and fewer and fewer of the other flowers; and soon they found themselves in the midst of a great meadow of poppies. Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever. But Dorothy did not know this, nor could she get away from the bright red flowers that were everywhere about; so presently her eyes grew heavy and she felt she must sit down to rest and to sleep."

 ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Enjoy this speed edit video of the fine art creation process of "Dorothy's World" (below):

Edited in Adobe Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CC by Lauren Bee: located in Inverness, FL; now serving Orlando, Tampa Bay area, and Central Florida; custom commissions available worldwide

Model: Sara Catherine

Styling: Lauren Bee

SONG: "Still Standing" by Anno Domini Beats

Textures by Jessica Drossin

Tornado: Ashley Kirkland Photography

Sky Photo by Jodi Mair Photography