Friday, June 7, 2013

Can't You Do That in Photoshop?

I had a feeling this might happen. The Photoshop marathon I just completed has me yearning to be back at my easel, hand coloring my prints. 

There are many reasons why I have not been hand coloring these days, and I am sure I will be talking more about that later, but for today, I thought I would share the artist statement I wrote when all of my images were hand colored.

It's been a couple of years since I wrote this, but I am putting it out there for me more than anything else. I feel like I need to be reminded and guided back to a time when I worked slower and more consciously.

So here it is:

Can't You Do That in Photoshop?

Every once in awhile I get asked the question "why do you hand-color your photographs?” This is usually followed with "why not just take a color photograph" or "can't you do that in Photoshop?”
So why would I go to so much trouble to hang on to a tradition tossed aside once before with the arrival of color film and now again with the faster and more efficient techniques used by most photographers today? Here are a few of my favorite reasons.
  • Hand coloring is relaxing. I put on my iPod and get lost for hours. I discover details in the photograph that I might have missed if I had only been looking at the image on my monitor. In this way, hand coloring has become a meditation of sorts.
  • What I create is an original work of art. For the most part, the look and feel of hand colored photographs can now be duplicated in Photoshop, so creating a certain mood is no longer one of my reasons for hand coloring.  In my "darkroom" days, even if I was not hand coloring, the black and white print itself could be considered an "original".  Every print was individually hand processed and even if the conditions were identical (which they never were), it was hard to reproduce exactly, the tones and contrast that appeared in a previous version.  Now, as long as I am consistent with my use of papers and inks, each black and white print I make should look like the one before it. Hand coloring gives me the opportunity to make the photograph a one of a kind piece.
  •  Hand coloring gets me off my computer and into the studio. This is a big one for me. I have totally embraced digital photography and I love what I can do in Photoshop, but it's very easy to sit down and realize 5 hours just felt like 5 minutes and everyone else in your house is asleep.

As I become more proficient in Photoshop, I am finding all sorts
of ways to express my creativity and realize my vision for the
images I make. It's exciting and I love it, but for the reasons I give above, I don't plan to ever completely give up hand coloring my photographs. I find it to be the perfect blend of tradition and technology.

Hand coloring helps me feel like I have slipped into a slower
and simpler time zone and it feels good. I hope viewers of my work feel the same way.

So....... my head is swirling with thoughts about photography, my experience with it, my history with it, and my passion for it.

Another shift appears to be happening and I am sure you will be hearing more..........

Have a great weekend!


  1. Hi Dianne, I spent many years painting photos printed in my darkroom with Marshall's Oils. I understand exactly how you feel. I'm now all digital, but reading your blog and seeing your beautiful photography makes me want to get those paints out again!
    Keep up the amazing artwork that you do!

    1. Thank you so much Jane for your comment! I miss the Marshall Oils too! Keep me posted. I would love to see what you do if you decided to hand color again!

  2. I always wanted to work with pastels and black and whites, yet never took the plunge. I have the materials -- and it's such a great reason to get away from the computer and back into the studio. Curious about the direction you are pondering with your art....

    1. Thanks Bo! Most of this right now has to do with my desire to slow down which is not easy these days! Let me know if you get the pastels out! Thanks!