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Understanding Handpainted Photography as a Unique Art Form

angelSince the invention of the photographic arts in the early 1800s, photographers have been creating hand colored photography. The excitement upon seeing a naturalistic image recorded for the first time in history quickly gave way to disappointment about the fact that the vividness of color was not recorded. Not long after the procedure was created artists becan coloring the daguerreotypes and tin-types to make them look more realistic. There were many patrons for the new enthusiastic photography artist to work for and the lone way to please these patrons was to add color by hand. Hand-painted postal cards also became quite renowned. This craze prevailed into the mid-twentieth century prior to the introduction of color film. Once color photography was perfected for public use, hand-painted photographs were no onger in style. Now, some artists carry on the tradition of this process as an art form that stands on its own.

Digital photography now allows both pros and beginners alike to delight in the tradition of coloring their photos with ease, as well as providing a means to produce a fine art photographic print. But there is still nothing like an original silver gelatin photographic print that has been hand-colored. There is an sublime quality to hand-colored fine art photography which is totally dissimilar either the prominent intense colors in ektachrome or kodachrome color photographs. There is also a lushness to the original hand painted photograph that far surpasses that of a digital print, not to mention the uniqueness in each and every one!

Unique handpainted photography is being done in a broad array of styles from lightly colored photographs to the contemporary heavily painted photos of the famed artist Holly Roberts. A simple image in which only a single thing is handpainted can be pleasantly effective. A young kid gripping a flower bud where only the flower bud has a delicate, subtle tone added to it makes a captivating statement. Yet every bit as effective is an photograph that has been metamorphosed into a personal artistic vision. The work of celebrated artist, Padgett McFeely, is a perfect example. Her work ranges from the classic hand painted photograph to the extreme heavily painted photograph. In her words, she “enriches her photographs with her hand painting techniques allowing her to amplify the mystic and intrigue of a particular scene, enhancing the emotional and spiritual content with the paint.”

landscapeA hand colored photograph is a form of the unique fine arts as well as a enduring treasure. Oil paint is one of the most commonly used mediums. It is brushed straight to the top of the original black and white photograph. The oil paint really protects the surface of the photograph, which results in the hand painted image being more archival than an conventional black and white artisan photograph. The artists is in no way confined to oil paint. A wide mixture of mediums can be used in the technique of coloring photographs. Watercolor, graphite pencil, crayon, felt-tipped makers - the sky’s the limit! The surface of the photographic print must be taken into consideration, however. A paper with a rough surface is essential for pencil application, for example.

McFeely refers to her imagery with a sense of veneration. “Capturing illusions of reality on film by utilizing the raw purity of black and white photography is intrinsic to my art. As my photography advances through a variety of stages, I am in essence seeking for that dream in the back of my mind”. Enter into her dream world and explore the beauty of a hand colored photography.

To see samples of McFeeleys Hand Colored Photographs visit
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*Note: Reach for the Stars Game is not affiliated with the authors of these articles or responsible for there content.

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