Close

Keith Dotson | Catching Shadows

THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER KEITH DOTSON

Trees: A love story

Trees: A love story

From childhood drawings to a career in photography, trees have remained a consistent subject

Some of my earliest memories include climbing big trees in the front yard of my grandmother’s house in the country. Climbing the thick trunks gave me an early feeling of accomplishment, as though I’d conquered a challenge, but in climbing the trunks with my arms wrapped around the trees, I was literally giving the trees a hug.

Having been born and spending some early years of my childhood in Appalachia, I developed an early natural concern for the environment. The winding road near my grandmother’s house (the same place I climbed those trees), was a route for logging trucks carrying giant trees from the forest to the saw mills. I witnessed strip mining and mountaintop removal scarring the beautiful mountains that I loved.

Starting in grade school, I developed an interest in drawing. By the time I reached middle school, I was passionate about trees and wanted to draw them.

Early drawings of trees by Keith Dotson

Ink drawing of a barren tree and wooden fence, completed when I was in middle school
Ink drawing of a barren tree and wooden fence, completed when I was in middle school. I’m pretty certain this was drawn completely from imagination.
Unfinished drawing of tree trunks and grass made with colored inks, 1990
Unfinished drawing of tree trunks and grass made with colored inks, 1990
Ink drawing of a grove of trees, 1990
Small ink drawing of a grove of trees, 1990, approximately 7 inches wide x 5 inches tall. At this point, my artist signature was established and remains consistent today.
Sketch of a tree and prickly pear cactus, 1999, pencil on watercolor paper
Sketch of a tree and prickly pear cactus, 1999, pencil on watercolor paper
Ebony pencil on hot press watercolor paper (detail), 2000. This drawing most closely resembles some of the photographs I would later make of trees.
Ebony pencil on hot press watercolor paper (detail), 2000. This drawing most closely resembles some of the photographs I would later make of trees. This work signifies the direction of my art when life was interrupted by divorce.

After art school, I worked as an art director in advertising, but in my free time, I continued to draw and paint trees in a variety of media. I would often take a camera loaded with film into the landscape to make reference photographs of trees and other subjects for my paintings (but mostly trees). At some point, the interest changed fully from art to photography.

Trees serve as wonderful focal points for landscape photographs. They work well as a dominant element. They are often so expressive in their “poses’ that they can personify human emotions. Trees can look mighty and sturdy, elderly and bent, or tortured and twisted. They can stand with the group or off by themselves.

Keith Dotson photographs of trees

Tree Growing near Monk's Mound at Cahokia, Illinois: Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson
Tree Growing near Monk’s Mound at Cahokia, Illinois: Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson. Click the photo to buy a fine art print.
Low Country Trees: This is a hand-printed darkroom photograph exposed on luxurious Ilford Classic Matte paper at 8 inches x 10 inches.
Low Country Trees: This is a hand-printed darkroom photograph exposed on luxurious Ilford Classic Matte paper at 8 inches x 10 inches. This photo is a direct reference back to the last pencil drawing from 2000 shown above. Click the photo to buy a print.
Late summer sunlight on a languid creek, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson.
Late summer sunlight on a languid creek, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a fine art print of this photo.
Cottonwood Branches - Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a print.
Cottonwood Branches – Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a print.
Black Trees on the Prairie - Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a fine art print here.
Black Trees on the Prairie – Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a fine art print here.
Giant Cottonwood Tree in Winter, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a print.
Giant Cottonwood Tree in Winter, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a print.

I have a big portfolio of tree photographs here. Be sure to check it out.

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to visit me on FacebookGoogle+ or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

Leave a Reply

Close