How My Trio Exhibit Art Was Created

To say I fell in love with the artwork produced for THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET’s Trio 2018 exhibit doesn’t really describe all I felt when I first set eyes on this piece.  Cyndi Hoelzle is the artist and she was kind enough to share the process with me.  Quite honestly, after seeing the finished product, and the way she’d captured her vision of Wallis Ann’s mute, autistic savant sister, Laci – well, I wanted to know all about it.  It’s uncanny how she pictured Laci as I did, for one thing, but the overall work in of itself is stunning.

Seeing another person’s concept of your story through a medium like art, or music, (which is the exact intent behind Trio) is thought-provoking, emotional, and very fulfilling.  Cyndi made me even more proud of my work, made me feel as if I’d written something that inspired her to produce this beautiful piece.

Here are the steps she took in her own words.

“I searched through thousands of stock photos, and found this one. Now that I look at it, it’s certainly a viola, but I don’t think you can tell in the finished piece! It was available on a creative commons license, so I was free to alter.”

“Obviously, the first thing I did was distress and age the photo.”

“I knew I wanted to do something with a carnival theme, because that was such a respite for them, and a happy place for awhile. I wanted to do something with a vintage Ferris wheel, and spent a lot of time researching 1940’s carnivals and amusement parks, but could never really find what I was looking for. Then I remembered visiting this cool museum of old arcade games in San Francisco, and searched for images I’d taken there.”

“I found another shot that showed the whole Ferris wheel, then cut out the background…”

“After that, I tried lots of different backgrounds , and settled on a multi colored one, and added a reflection effect to allude to the flood.”

“Finally, it was a matter of making the images overlay. I did a few different versions, including this one that just came out too creepy…”

“Settled on this design, because I loved the way the words “Side Show” were right above her eyes, and reflected below. This was the original overlay…”

“Then I erased parts of the carnival image I didn’t want in the shot, emphasized her eye and parts of the fiddle. ”


“I love that the Ferris wheel is still on the fiddle, even if you can’t really tell what it is. And I took out the carny barker figure, but left just enough to give a ghosting that looks like a tear running down her face.

I went back and forth between this final image, and this one. I really loved the look of this, but decided that the image with the overlay portrayed more of Laci, and hoped it would make people want to read the book!”

“So there you go! Thank you for taking a little tour through the process.”

Now you can really see why I’m so over the moon about this art work.  When I was part of the Trio Live event in Marietta Georgia at The Book Exchange, the picture was brought out as I wrapped up details on what inspired me to write the story.

There was an audible gasp from everyone who came to the show that night.

Big thanks to Daren Wang (HIDDEN LIGHT OF NORTHERN FIRES) for snapping this photo!

That about sums it up.


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