Marcus Larson/News-Register##Lou Ann Goodrich looks through her portfolio of finished pieces, which usually start with photos of wildlife. Goodrich is an animal lover who is concerned about the environment.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Lou Ann Goodrich looks through her portfolio of finished pieces, which usually start with photos of wildlife. Goodrich is an animal lover who is concerned about the environment.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Tigers are among Goodrich’s favorite subjects. She uses a very long lens when photographing big cats in order to capture their natural behavior.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Tigers are among Goodrich’s favorite subjects. She uses a very long lens when photographing big cats in order to capture their natural behavior.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Horses and cowboys are favorite subjects. Goodrich often adds dramatic skies to her images.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Horses and cowboys are favorite subjects. Goodrich often adds dramatic skies to her images.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dundee artist Lou Ann Goodrich uses a computer to layer images, add backgrounds and otherwise alter photos.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Dundee artist Lou Ann Goodrich uses a computer to layer images, add backgrounds and otherwise alter photos.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Stopping By: Reality, with an artist's touch

But the photographs are only the beginning of her art. Using Photoshop and imagination, she adds and subtracts, strips down and augments, masks and enhances to create unique pieces of art.

Stopping By

Starla Pointer, who is convinced everyone has an interesting story to tell, has been writing the weekly “Stopping By” column since 1996.

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"I end up with lots and lots and lots of layers," she said.

Goodrich didn't start out to be an artist, although she does remember dabbling in drawing and oil painting as a child. But she was never serious about it, and, in fact, she didn't even shoot photos until relatively recently.

She grew up in Washington and came to Oregon to attend Portland State University. She went on to Oregon Health Sciences University, where she became a doctor.

For many years, she focused on medicine. She worked as an emergency room physician at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland and managed the hospital's urgent care clinics. She's now a doctor emeritus, she said — not officially retired, but no longer taking long, regular shifts in the ER.

"Medicine pretty much takes all your time and energy," she said.

After she cut back on her medical career in 2006, Goodrich had time to pursue a lifelong passion: riding horses. She kept her saddlebreds at her home in the hills above Dundee, where she and her husband, Dick, have lived since the early 1990s. 

About a year later, the couple visited Yellowstone National Park, a place she loves. She took a camera along, and instead of just watching the wildlife, she took photos, as well. 

"Bison, bears, wolves, bighorn sheep, coyotes," she recalled. "I started with those."

See more of her work

Her digital camera allowed her to take as many shots as she wanted. Suddenly hooked, she came home with thousands of pictures.

"I don't think I'd have had the patience for film," Goodrich said, thinking about the instant gratification of digital photography. "Having to wait for film to be developed would drive me crazy."

Digital cameras have gotten better and better in the decade she's been using them, she said. She's able to shoot in all kinds of light conditions and long-distance, as well, since she has some super-long lenses.

Taking pictures allows her to honor animals and places without disturbing them — and that fits into her philosophy of life.

"I care so much about the world, about the destruction of the environment, about endangered species," she said. "We're losing them."

Her dream is to sell her art and donate the profits to causes that support wildlife and environmental protection.

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Since that first photography trip to Yellowstone, she's returned to the park and visited other national parks. She's spent time in the Rockies, the deserts of the Southwest and at wildlife viewing areas up and down the West Coast.

She's also spent time shooting photos of what she calls "wildlife surrogates" — wild animals in zoos, sanctuaries and rescue habitats. "Whether they're true wildlife or capture, I try to get them in their natural behavior. That's my favorite," she said.

Oh, there are moments she doesn't enjoy as much. Occasionally, a wild animal turns and heads straight toward her — or at least it appears that's what it's doing, because of her long lens. The results are priceless.

"Getting natural behavior requires a huge lens and a lot of patience," she said. "A lot of waiting, maybe hiding in a blind."

Sometimes, she doesn't know just what she has until she's home, going through her photos one by one. "The speed drive catches things I don't even see," she said. "Looking at the pictures later is like Christmas."

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Even while collecting pictures of animals — and, occasionally, other subjects, as well — she found that pictures didn't quite satisfy her. "I wanted more than just photos," she said. 

Goodrich found a way to make “more” of her photos when she discovered an Internet course called "Photoshop Artistry." Taught by digital artist Sebastian Michael, the course gave her not only the skills, but also the confidence, to combine, change and enhance her pictures.

"Sebastian does a lot of encouraging," she said. "He tells us to get out and do it; don't be afraid."

She might take a photo of a bear cub, for instance, and add flowers and birds. Or she might turn a hawk into a successful hunter by putting a fish into his grip. She might stage a family photo by combining one picture of a big cat with another of a cub.

She can make the setting more interesting, as well. She often paints in the sky, adding dramatic clouds that frame the subject. Or she adds water, creating a splash.

Goodrich said she loved experimenting and creating. Still, she was shy about calling herself an artist and posting her finished pieces for other members of the course to view.

Then she took another of Michael's classes, called "Awake," which put an emphasis on sharing her work. She began posting pieces to the class Facebook page, which was open only to students. She was emboldened by the positive reactions.

"Everybody is very supportive," she said. 

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While most of her art pieces feature wildlife, she also has done many with horses, cowboys and Western paraphernalia as her subjects.

And she's done a few fantasy scenes. One that appeared in the digital magazine The Photo Artistic Life in 2016 shows a man climbing an atoll that rises straight up out of a turbulent ocean. Below the water can be seen train tracks and a sinking locomotive, observed by a curious turtle. "Rising Sea," it's called.

In the same issue, another of Goodrich's pictures shows a full-grown elephant frolicking in the surf in front of a dramatic sunset.

The elephant is more typical, since she uses animals as subjects far more often than people.

But her pieces with people put the same emphasis on natural behavior. In one, for instance, a pair of young boys are surrounded by library books and dreams. In another, two men are fishing, successfully, with help from their two water-loving dogs.

She revealed the layering behind the fishing photo: The two men were in one shot, although they weren't fishing. She created the boat and the fish using her computer. "Then I thought, they need some dog buddies," said Goodrich, who especially loves big dogs. 

She said she enjoys the process most of all — finding just the right elements and putting them together. "Sometimes I sit down with ideas; sometimes I just let it happen and it develops," she said.

She happily spends hours in her workshop, taking breaks to hike three or four miles of trails with her Great Dane, Scout. After walking, she returns to the computer.

"When is it done? Sometimes even I don't know, so I'll put it away for a couple weeks," she said.

If she still likes it after the waiting period, it's a finished piece.


 

See more of her work

Louann Goodrich's art can be seen on her website, louanngoodrich-photoartist.com; on the website for Light Space Time gallery, which is featuring her work through Jan. 15, at lightspacetime.com; and at artboja.com/art/sheqeg.

Her pieces also can be seen in The Photo Artistic Life in both its print version and on its website, at thephotoartisticlife.com. The February 2016 digital edition features her work, for instance.

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