artlab : painted photographs
Even if you’re new to this site, you’ve likely gathered that I have a longstanding interest in painted photographs. I began painting with watercolors on my own silver gelatin prints more than 25 years ago, and while my techniques have shifted, hand-painting remains at the heart of my work. I see photographic prints as a painter’s canvas. In the words of Miro: “I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.”
Given this long history of painting on photographs and in most recent years encouraging others to give it a try (with PhotoPlay), yesterday’s ArtLab workshop at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art was especially interesting.
I set up two tables, one with small vintage photographs I had collected from flea markets and antique stores, the other with large color prints that were donated to the ArtLab.
No instructions were necessary.
People chose their images without hesitation
and began working in their own way, straightaway.
This was a “painted photograph” workshop, but some chose to use only colored pencils.
While the effects were subtle, the resulting prints were not less provocative or intriguing.
Others chose to mount their photographs and use them, in a sense, as prompts,
so that the “meaning” or subject of the image didn’t drive the process, and the work evolved freely.
Others painted on their photographs to not only add color,
but also to push parts of the image forward, parts backward.
And then of course, since we were in the ArtLab, it wasn’t long before scissors and glue led to collage…
Below are painted (and drawn-on) photographs created by people age 3 to 63. This time there were no collaborative works. Everyone was lost in their own world, their own work. Drawn in to the reality of the photograph, moving through the process of redefining the image, and coming out on the other side with something brand new.