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Computer helps evoke art of past
Times Snohomish County bureau
Roy Hughes has long loved travel posters of the 1920s and '30s — the ones that got Americans and Canadians out of their houses and into their cars to visit national parks.
Inspired by the art of the Canadian Pacific Railway, whose posters for Banff and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies are classics, Hughes has begun to produce a broad portfolio of 9 ½- by 13-inch posters.
Hughes composes them on a computer from his own photographs and occasionally from others' photos. Like silk-screen and block prints, they have few colors and simplified shapes, and only the most important details.
"They get a lot of mileage out of one color," Hughes said.
He also draws inspiration from Japanese wood-block prints.
"That is what got me started on the posters that I generate on the computer, which I call digital block prints," he said.
Hughes' first was a picture of Barclay Lake, near Baring, King County. Other locations followed: Eagle Lake, Blanca Lake, Scorpion Mountain and Evergreen Mountain, all in or near the proposed Wild Sky Wilderness of East Snohomish County.
Looking at Hughes' prints, one can almost smell the evergreen trees, the fresh air, the wildflowers that dot the alpine ridges and trails in a sun-drenched summer. He's hiked every one of these places. In 2003, a particularly good year, he made 40 hikes.
Hughes said that on each hike, he takes 80 to 100 digital photos, which are important sources for his paintings and posters.
Roy Hughes' Web site:
"I am a hiker who paints — or a painter who hikes," he wrote in an essay. "I live for the high country in summer."
But rather than pack canvas and paints into the high country, Hughes found he could recapture the essence of a site working from his reference photos.
Though digital printing is as convenient as the click of a mouse, the process is still a methodical one. Take his "Red Jammer" print, for example. It's a poster of a vintage touring bus that operates at Glacier National Park in Montana. The digital print has 133 layers and took 20 hours to compose.
Hughes' digital-print sales have taken off. He also has modified a series of watercolors he did in the San Juans in 2000 and since August has sold more than 600 cards and posters on Lopez and Shaw islands.
And the circle is widening. Hughes has entered the Redmond Heritage Art Contest with posters of the windmill and Clise Mansion at Marymoor Park, and made a poster of the Fort Ward firehouse on Bainbridge Island. He plans to show work in October at Valley General Hospital in Monroe and in December at the Snohomish Library.
His Wild Sky series and his North Cascades posters caught the eye of a Glacier National Park review committee, which selected him as an artist-in-residence for four weeks of presentations this summer.
The park's staff looked at his Web site and decided Glacier should have a series of similar prints. Hughes already has begun work on them.
Starting in mid-July, he will spend four weeks at Glacier. He'll sketch, paint, hike, take photos, talk to visitors at park lookouts and lecture once a week at Lake McDonald Lodge.
Hughes will be a happy camper.
"I get a cabin 22 feet from Lake McDonald for four weeks," he said.
It's also a good fit. After earning a degree in art education from the University of Washington, Hughes was a teacher in Edmonds and Monroe schools for 20 years.
Now retired from teaching, he and his wife, Jeanie Goodhope, live on a farm outside Snohomish with six llamas, a horse and household pets.
The title of his talks at Glacier this summer sums up his message: "Preserving Nature's Beauty Through Art."
"I think that in a small way I'm trying to preserve the environment through reflections of it," he said.
Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company