Color has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I pursued many creative endeavors and thought myself a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. I wanted to narrow my focus. I took a litany of courses through Raleigh Parks and Rec. and Meredith College leading to my Masters from NCSU College of Design, with a focus on the use of photography in children’s book illustration.
In graduate school, I worked to develop a method for combining my favorite media with black & white photography. I tested many papers and media, settling on oil pastels and oil based colored pencils on fiber based prints. Not long after graduating, I had to give up the dark room due to health issues. Switching to digital was in many ways like starting over. First I had to study color photography, then its conversion to black and white and then I had to master the black and white inkjet print. When I got to the hand painting part, I started by testing many types of matt photo inkjet paper with pastels, oil, watercolor and colored pencils. Over the years I’ve found the perfect combination of tools for me. I use an Epson archival, heavy matt paper, archival inks and colored pencils (oil based, wax based, and watercolor pencils).The photographs are printed to resemble the under-painting technique, grisaille, used by The Old Masters. Glazing is created by applying color in thin, transparent layers of colored pencil. Most of my current work is created using 5 pencils; cyan, yellow, magenta, indigo and white, giving a special depth to my work.
Hand painted photographs have been around since the invention of photography. They lost favor when color photography came on the scene but have had a resurgence since the 1960s. The original intent was to add life to black and white portraits. Contemporary artists have moved beyond traditional uses. Hand painting takes a photograph from the realm of modern machine-age precision to the soft, expressive life of a painting.
There are many things I love about hand painting photographs. I love the way color can be used to intensify depth and lead the viewer through the image, drawing their attention to aspects I want to be sure they don’t miss. I have total control of the color scheme and mood and whether or not I want to heighten the realism. I shoot mostly candids so I particularly like that the photograph doesn’t have to have razor sharp focus or the Zone System range of grays. Images that are soft and printed on the light side make the best painted photographs!
In my art, I look to the world around me for subject matter. I am drawn to folklore and fairy tales; I tend to search for the perfect “wee ones” habitat and anthropomorphic shapes. Old buildings and discarded pieces from our lives also interest me. I love the textures created by age and weather. There is something calming that draws me to these structures. Perhaps my affinity to old things comes from growing older myself!