The Oak Lovers-For my beloved daughter Kim

Uploaded 21 May 2012 — 34 favorites
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© Deborah Downes

Photo license: © All rights reserved

When I captured the original version of this image, I immediately thought of my daughter Kim and all the years she spent writing her first historical novel, The Oak Lovers. Here's how she describes this labor of love: In the summer of 1900, the famed Roycroft art colony sets the stage for scandal as a married, consumptive artist becomes enraptured by a spirited illustrator half his age. Carl Ahrens, an acclaimed Canadian landscape painter, christens Martha Niles his Madonna—his muse, his confidant and his soul-mate.

In a society where reputation is critical, Madonna flees to spare them both from ruin, leaving Carl with the wife who despises him, in a community that discredits his genius. But like the trees in his paintings, Madonna and Carl grow more fused over time and not even distance can sever their bond. They sacrifice family and convention to carve a life together—one fraught with debilitating disease, destitution, and the malice of his peers, the future Group of Seven. Ultimately, their love transcends unimaginable tragedy and loss.

Based on the lives of my great-grandparents, THE OAK LOVERS follows Carl and Madonna’s journey from the art colonies of New York, to the Spanish missions in California, to Edwardian Toronto and the Ontario countryside.

To say the least, I'm very proud of Kim's accomplishment. She's now caught up in the editing process.

Among the layers I added to this photo, is an old photo of Carl and Madonna. The ghostly result is so fitting in that Kim often felt her great-parents told her what to write.

32 responses

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (21 May 2012):

    This is great editing. Wonderful photo and story!

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (21 May 2012):

    This is absolutely fabulous!! Well done on both your part AND Kim's.

  • Geoff Plant

    Geoff Plant gave props (21 May 2012):


  • eithne mythen

    eithne mythen gave props (22 May 2012):

    Wow I love what you have done here, it's fantastic, bravo and congrats to both of you!!!

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (22 May 2012):

    Absolutely stunningly beautiful!!!

  • Michele Wambaugh

    Michele Wambaugh (Deleted) said (22 May 2012):

    Congrats! I LOVE this evocative image!

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (22 May 2012):

    This would make a fabulous cover for the book! A wonderful work of art and tribute to Kim.

  • Davide Simone

    Davide Simone (Deleted) gave props (22 May 2012):

    i love this

  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker gave props (22 May 2012):

    This is brilliant, my friend! Good luck to her.

  • Kelly Nichols

    Kelly Nichols gave props (22 May 2012):

    Beautiful photo....lovely interpretation of the book.

  • Paperini Renato

    Paperini Renato gave props (22 May 2012):

    Awesome, looks like a real image.

  • Nadeem Shafi

    Nadeem Shafi gave props (22 May 2012):

    Deborah, this is phenomenal. Instant fav!

  • Kim Bullock

    Kim Bullock said (22 May 2012):

    As you know, Mom, I love this photo. Though the woman is certainly not me, I can imagine myself as her. It looks like Carl is listening intently to whatever it is she has to say to him.

  • Susan B. Griffith

    Susan B. Griffith   said (22 May 2012):

    Truly a golden moment in many ways.

  • Ioana Caravan

    Ioana Caravan   gave props (22 May 2012):


  • lowison

    lowison gave props (23 May 2012):

    Inspiring image: nice one!

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham gave props (23 May 2012):

    A powerful image and I just have to read that book!!!!!!!!!

  • Ann Reece

    Ann Reece gave props (23 May 2012):

    This is awesome, Deb, it is a very powerful image and narrative!!!

  • Steve Baker

    Steve Baker (Deleted) gave props (23 May 2012):

    Superb photo, Deborah - on so many levels.

  • Patty Gross

    Patty Gross (Deleted) gave props (23 May 2012):

    Magnficant, Debra!! Your creative ability here is really glowing. I love this photo and feel such a great emotional tie to it. My husband David agrees (he's the artist) that this book sound very interesting and he would love to read it....I could not agree more. Please let us know when the book become available!!

  • Carol Arntsen Masiak

    Carol Arntsen Masiak gave props (23 May 2012):

    i am continually pulled back to this image - to view, to read your narrative and to wonder....

  • Fakrul Islam

    Fakrul Islam said (23 May 2012):

    Ghost image reflection made your photo bad. I think, Without this reflection, It,s good .

  • Simona Ranieri

    Simona Ranieri gave props (24 May 2012):


  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (24 May 2012):

    Fakrul, I respect your opinion. Happy the rest of you are moved by this image. Your thoughtful comments mean a lot to me. A special thank you to Patty for the spotlight. I'll keep you posted on Kim's book.

  • Kevin Lane

    Kevin Lane gave props (24 May 2012):


  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (25 May 2012):

    Not only you are incredibly talented, Deborah but it runs in the family...This is could be a book cover easily. You have my vote.

  • James Wiley

    James Wiley gave props (28 May 2012):

    Wonderful story and magnificent image. Assume the editing was done with Photoshop but could also have been achieved with film. Whatever, it is some of the best editing I have seen!

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight gave props (30 May 2012):

    Haunting, classic, compelling -- Could illustrate a theme.

  • Elyseo

    Elyseo gave props (2 Jun 2012):

    great work!! poetic!!

  • Laurie Search

    Laurie Search gave props (4 Jun 2012):

    Beautiful work, my friend!!! xo

  • Robert R. Gaines

    Robert R. Gaines gave props (18 Jun 2012):

    Your creative roots run deep and bear fine fruit like this fascinating image.

  • vonAsh

    vonAsh gave props (19 Jun 2012):

    Absolutely beautiful! It reminded me of a book cover when I saw it; kudos to your daughter!

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