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The Evolution of My Creative Vision & Narrative For My 2023 Wild Horse Handmade Book

Tim Layton Wild Horses of Shannon County, Missouri -

Creating authentic artwork takes time because it is a deeply personal experience, and the ideas and creative direction form and change over time, just like people.

I work diligently exploring the creative methods to bring my artwork to life, and this is a process directly linked to my heart, mind, and soul.

I have been exploring a lot of different options over the last few months, ranging from platinum and palladium to oil prints, and classic silver gelatin.

I feel like I am getting closer to finalizing the method and aesthetic for the wild horse handmade book project so I wanted to share my thoughts with you today in this article.

If you want to follow along as I work my way through creating my new handmade wild horse fine art book, you can read each new article that I share along and you can watch behind-the-scenes videos as I work in the darkroom.


Before I share the current state of the creative direction, it is important for me to share the why behind what’s driving my choices.

In case you didn’t know, this wild horse fine art handmade book project is dedicated to my youngest daughter Abby that was killed in a car accident in 2021. In addition to dedicating this project to her, the loss of her and the grieving process is directly and metaphorically linked to why I make specific creative choices.

I got the dreaded call in the early afternoon on April 15, 2021. She was returning home from school and was involved in a fatal car accident. Even as I write these words right now, tears are streaming down my face. The deep pain, grief, and loss of her are more than I can bare at times. No parent should ever experience the loss of a child, but unfortunately, it can and does happen to many parents.

Ten days after her death, I couldn’t stay at the house any longer, and I needed to get outside and change my environment because I felt like I was suffocating. Going to see wild horses have always been a relaxing and peaceful experience for me, but today, it was different.

I couldn’t sleep, so I just went ahead and left the house around 3 AM, so I could arrive at the location where I hoped to find the horses before sunrise.

Like that day, I am awake at 3 AM writing this article on Christmas day.

I made it safely to the spot where I wanted to be at sunrise, but there was a heavy fog on this morning. I couldn’t see probably more than 10 feet in front of me.

As time passed and it got closer to sunrise, I could hear and even smell the horses, but I couldn’t see them.

As the sunrise topped the horizon and painted light into the valley where I was, I could see a white mare standing as if she was a statue.

As I watched her very closely, I noticed she kept looking down at the ground in front of her, but I couldn’t figure out why.

As the warm morning light continued to reveal the unseen, I realized a new young foal was lying on the ground in front of the mare as she stood over her and watched.

In that instant, I got chills over my body, and I knew that Abby was being watched and she was peacefully sleeping, just like the little foal.

This experience drives the narrative and creative direction for this body of work.

Wild Horse Mare Looking Over Her New Foal in Morning Fog by Tim Layton Fine Art -

If you want to follow along as I work my way through creating my new handmade wild horse fine art book, you can read each new article that I share along and you can watch behind-the-scenes videos as I work in the darkroom.


I have been exploring a variety of different handmade fine art methods ranging from platinum and palladium, to pure palladium, Rawlins oil prints, and a variety of silver gelatin prints.

I originally shied away from silver gelatin because my prints are so clean and technically perfect; I was afraid that people wouldn’t be able to realize the prints where hand made and possibly created with digital technology. I decided to push through the concern and explore some options.

This past week, I started transforming a classic silver gelatin black and white print, like the one listed before, to an image that aligns better with the emotions and feelings that I am trying to share through my artwork.

Ice Princess Silver Gelatin Large Format Contact Print

While the classic black and white silver gelatin print is elegant and timeless, it wasn’t exactly what I have in my mind.

So, I started exploring a variety of bleaching, redevelopment, and toning options to help get the artwork more aligned with my vision.

The print to the left is a classic black and white silver gelatin print that I was working on for a possible candidate for the book project. The two prints to the right are three different tests. The top print on the right was bleached for 1 min 15 sec using my standard bleach formula and then re-developed with my standard sepia toner. The print on the lower right is actually cut in half if you look closely. The first half on the left was bleached for 3 minutes and redeveloped for 3 minutes. The second half of the lower right print was bleached for 5 minutes and redeveloped for the same time as the other prints.

If you look closely, each print’s colors and tones differ.

I like the bottom right left-half artwork the best because it is getting closer to the warm tone and airy image that I have in my mind. I am exploring the warmer tonality because I am seeking a feeling of warmth and being alive.

I associate death with being cold and dark, and I want to express through my artwork that even though we will all lose loved ones and even die ourselves, it doesn’t mean this will be a cold and dark experience. I also feel like the warmer tones have an underlying meaning of hope.


I will explore the method that I described above on a few different prints to see how I like it on various images. I would like to open up the higher values even more if I can, so I will probably make a highly dilute version of my standard bleach and bleach some test strips at various times to visually explore if this works for me.

After I make the new prints and explore some new options, I will share an update with you on my status along with the next steps.

-Tim Layton

I am offering a limited-time opportunity for art buyers and collectors that want to support the development and creation of our first limited edition of 100 handmade wild horse fine art books. The book will include at least 12 handmade wild horse fine art prints with acid-free interleaving vellum between each print. Each piece of artwork in the book is embossed with a custom stamp and each artwork is titled, dated, and signed. A final version of the artist statement will be at the front of the book and be hand signed. The book will be made in a lay-flat style, so you can enjoy each piece of artwork with the book lying flat. You will receive a certificate of authenticity hand signed and dated. You will be rewarded as an early supporter because you will save 50% off the final price of this limited edition handmade book. In a world where everything is mass produced and cheaply made, our handmade wild horse fine art book is a rare opportunity to support an artist that is committed to pre-mechanized 19th century handmade processes. You’ll be rewarded with a unique and collectible artwork that you’ll appreciate for the rest of your life.