Corinne Geertsen holding cat with Museum size print
Corinne Geertsen with Museum size print

I began being an artist by drawing murals inside my childhood closet with a purple crayon. I grew up on the plains of Montana. What a great place to be outside. Nearly all my work is set outdoors.

My father was a psychologist. Psychologists at that time would show someone a set of over-the-top dramatic drawings and ask them to make up a story about each picture. (If patterns repeated, inferences could be drawn.)

I was intrigued with the picture plates of my father’s tests, which were designed to evoke strong narrative from whoever looked at them. I was intrigued by the connections between stories and images and studied the pictures. As a result, I move easily between story line and image and back again as I work. I live for a psychological twist.

I’m a reader. I enjoy a strong story line with richness, complications and thunderbolts of the “I never saw THAT coming!” variety. I read books by authors on writing fiction in order to make my work stronger.

I aspire to this, said by Neil Gaiman: “We are using lies, we’re using memorable lies, we are taking people who do not exist and things that did not happen to those people in places that aren’t, and we are using those things to communicate true things to each other.”

I had beginnings in science with several student research grants from the American Cancer Society involving genetic mapping. My brother, who became a particle physicist, made a space capsule for my hamsters and planned to send them to the moon from a drive-in movie screen. I was aghast.

I grew up with psychology and science. My pictures are full of cause and effect and plight.

I have always enjoyed connections with animals. When I was seven, I dragged a horse home and put him in the backyard, in case he was lost. I had a Border Collie whose abilities are family legend. I have a cat who leaves messages in his kibble. Savvy animals are often agents of change in many of my works

I studied at Brigham Young University, where I received a B.A. and an M.F.A. in drawing and painting. Photoshop and digital art did not yet exist.

Decades later I took a Photoshop course in order to restore old family photos. Two weeks into the class I began seeing my ancestors as characters in dramas. It was off to the races.

I felt I had discovered the other half of the map. Working digitally dovetails nicely with the way my mind works.

I work from my incessantly growing archive of 70,000 old photos and photos I’ve taken myself. As I write this, I have 980 photos of bears alone.

My work sources more than a century and a half of technology. I use Civil War and Victorian era studio portraits as source material, yet I work digitally on a computer with massive memory, deep within the technical intricacies/mysteries of Photoshop.

Photo Op by Corinne Geertsen
Photo Op

I find the contradiction and complexity of working with multiple technologies irresistible. “Photo Op” above uses gelatin dry plate negative photos, photos from NASA’s Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera, and my own Nikon D750’s digital photos.

I live Mesa, Arizona. I work there and wherever there might be a good picture to take.

Clouded by Corinne Geertsen

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