What is a Hand-Colored Photo?

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What is a Hand-Colored Photo?
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What is a Hand-Colored Photo?  Might you like to make one, too?

The top picture shows my sepia photo of a tulip garden before I added color with oil-alkyd glazes.  The bottom picture shows the handcolored photograph (with coloring added with oil paints by Nancy) called "Topaz Tulips."  I used some opaque (white added) colors and some transparent ones, for unique effects.

Some collectors have asked me to create small original works that would be more affordable than oil paintings. In 2004, therefore, I began to use oil glazes on black and white (and also sepia) photographs, a process that takes less time than a full painting. Suppose I compare making a painting to the baking of a cake from scratch, from selecting the recipe to assembling all the ingredients. In that case, hand-coloring a photo is like putting the icing on a cake that has already been baked. It is the fun, colorful part, made easy because the photo supplies the drawing and values (light and dark areas).

I select a photo that I have taken. First I seal the photo, to protect it from the oil glazes. I then apply from four to twelve glazes of color and add texture by hand.  Below here is a black and white photo taken by my friend, photographer Lynell Morgan with whom I share a website, of Lynell's niece and nephew. I handcolored the 11x14 photo for her.

I learned some of my methods from several articles I had kept from Artist's magazine and from a video I purchased in 2004, Handcoloring Photographs by James A. McKinnis (video copyrighted in 1989).

About YOU, dear reader: If you find it difficult to draw accurately, but like to explore colors, hand-tinting photos may be an art form you would enjoy.  You can have fun with your colors, making them far different from the ones seen in nature.  My friend Lynell Morgan enjoys PhotoShop and other computer programs for altering her photographs.  I like to work by hand instead.  You may like to do BOTH!

(This guide comes from my website blog of June 2008.)

Text and art here has been copyrighted by Nancy Lee Moran, with one artwork also copyrighted by Lynell Morgan.

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