Painting on Photographs

My November has largely been spent inventing a ton of new artistic ideas, and revisiting many others I’ve had over the years. Stay tuned for many new adventures!

One idea which has been percolating for awhile is a variation on hand-tinted photographs. Quite common in the early days of exclusively black & white photography, prints were typically made with a heavy photo paper which was not glossy at all, but matte with a subtle metallic sheen to it. Since it was more paper than plastic (as photos tend to be these days), you could paint on it, and many photography studios did.

Photo by Janelle Bighinatti
detail of Blessed Sacrament church, Seattle

My own foray into this art form began with a large print of a photograph I had made of a 100 year old church in Seattle (yes, this one pictured here). The image was printed on matte paper – heavy duty museum quality fine art paper – and from then on I knew I wanted to begin printing most of my photos on paper like this, because of how much more tactile and warm it is than glossy paper.

This kind of paper also reminds me of watercolor paintings, which struck me when I realized that *I could paint on my photograph*. The work you see here is my experiment in painting on my own black & white photograph with deep blue calligraphy ink and gold metallic paint.

I was further inspired to continue with this after recently stumbling upon the Whatcom County Museum’s exhibit on antique hand-tinted black & white photographs. I learned that lighter oil based paints were primarily used, and that since each image was done by hand they all ended up being slightly different in intensity of color and shading.

For this photographer whose work already tends to blur the line between painting and photography, this is a direction I am thrilled to explore further.

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