Mesa Crosses of New Mexico: transforming a small painting study into new compositions with Photoshop

Mesas and Crosses, 9 x 12" oil on board, KG Taylor

1. This painting was inspired by my love of the dramatic landscapes of New Mexico and the Navaho and Spanish weaving traditions of the people. Revisiting paintings after a time is becoming an exciting learning tool for me.  I decided to create a large painting or two from this small study, hoping to simplify into a compelling landscape. I already love this color palette, and will attempt to keep to it!

New Mesa composition with center focal point

2. Using Photoshop’s cut and paste tools, I removed the cross motifs and blended the remaining sections of the painting together again. The original study with crosses seems deceptively simple, but it was a pretty complex composition I didn’t want to try duplicating in a new way. Some things are better left as is, you know? This new composition places the big mesa group as the focal point, seeming more massive and powerful.

Vertical Mesa Composition with Clouds

3. I’m really liking this completely new look. The clouds are playing a big role. The gold in the sky drops the eye downward to the section of mountain and then to the water and foreground at last. I call this a “tapestry” effect, which is a favorite of mine. The eye reads from top to bottom and back up again. I will definitely paint this one! Foreground has issues, needs diminishing in prominence a little, don’t you think?

Flipped light source to right, new idea no. 4

4. Flipping a composition in Photoshop is just like looking at your painting in a mirror to see how the composition stacks up (traditional painting trick often used). It reveals any weaknesses, maybe tells you it only works one way (the original way) or sometimes gives you a whole new idea. When I flipped the painting horizontally, it suddenly seemed to “read” better, as in the western mentality of reading images and words left to right. The light gold focal point became more pronounced to me. You can see I made the mesa mountain group higher and more compact, and the water in the foreground is a bit more pronounced in a way. Don’t quite know why, but the mountain has taken on more “personality” to me for some reason. This version has interesting possibilities.

Now I am too “close” to these studies tonight to see which I would like to tackle first as a large painting. Have to sleep on it and get new vision later. Anyone have an opinion? I would love to have your input or ideas. Thanks,  Karen

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8 Responses to “Mesa Crosses of New Mexico: transforming a small painting study into new compositions with Photoshop”

  1. Adele Mackintosh Says:


    I LOVE your paintings. My choice would be No. 4. Not that I know a lot about art. I just like it best. Wish we lived closer. I would love to buy one of your paintings.

    Good luck.


  2. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    I like #3. I like the simplicity of it. Colors are fantastic!


  3. mosheppo Says:

    No 1 is fascinating… but wonder if the cross design is too strong. my eyes focus on the area. (Not sure but love it anyway.)
    And of course totally love no. 4.


  4. Joan Waites Says:

    I think the 4th one with the mountains flipped to the left works really well. Perhaps because we “read” left to right and for some reason feels more balanced. Of course they are all beautiful, but that one is my favorite! Great new look!


  5. karen Says:

    Thanks for your input, Joan. I’ve been surprised that most people like no. 4, but I think that positioning and lighting facing right might be what is a plus in this one. Interesting to hear what people think! I appreciate it!


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