Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Process or Vision?

I recently heard an artist talk about how it's better to blog for yourself than for others. I know this is true, so I am going to warn you.....this post rehashes some issues I have discussed before, but I am writing it to sort things out for myself more than anything else. I apologize in advance if it seems like I am repeating myself.

I have been a photographer for over twenty years. In the beginning I shot only black and white film and made prints in my bathroom. I loved what I was doing, but the black and white images I was creating did not always match the vision I had. Then I discovered hand coloring and everything changed. Finally I had a way to share what was in my head.

And I was happy about this for many many years........................

When I started learning about Photoshop, a conflict within began to emerge. While the learning curve was steep, I soon began creating images in my computer that I loved! 

Along with the changes in technology, my vision had begun to shift. Many more things were now possible and I wanted to try them all.

The conflict brewing was because I thought I "should" still be hand coloring all my prints. This is what I was known for, and while I loved the hands-on nature of the original art I was creating, the "vision" was not there. What was in my head (and my heart), was not showing up on the paper.

Something happened last week that brought with it a lot of clarity regarding this issue.

A few months ago I shared how I was experimenting with some mixed media techniques including hand coloring Unryu paper that had been mounted on a board. Last week, with the studio move behind me, (for now) the urge to create with my hands grew strong, so I bought a few boards and made some prints.

The battle then began. I had a pretty good idea of how these were going to turn out if I hand colored them..........and it wasn't what I had in mind. The voices grew loud: "But you hand color! It's what you do!" It then became very clear that this was not a reason to do it.

With my last remaining piece of paper, I made a color print. This print represented my vision of the piece........period. Isn't that why we make art? To express ourselves? I refuse to compromise my art because of too many "shoulds". 

Pigment print on Unryu paper, mounted on encaustic board.

It's difficult to see it here, but I also coated the piece with some cold wax medium. This not only adds texture, but also enhances the fibers in the paper, protects the print, and in many ways creates an original work of art. 

The exciting part for me is I was able to do something with my hands and it turned out the way I wanted it to! In the last couple of years, that was not always the case when I hand colored a print.

So what does this all mean? Will I never hand color again? I doubt it, but I am not going to apologize if that happens.

In related news......Last month I did a fairly major overhaul of my websiteThe most significant change was I moved any image that began it's life as a hand colored, black and white photograph, into a separate portfolio. Prior to this, reproductions of hand colored images were sometimes placed right next to images processed entirely in Photoshop. 

I suspected that showing both types of images could be confusing, and this bothered me. A couple of months ago I had a long time collector purchase one of my prints from Ireland and after doing so, sent me an email sharing how she took the print to work and explained my process to everyone. I know what "process" she was talking about........ 

After creating the portfolio of reproductions, I also made one for the last remaining originals I have on hand. I then sent out an email to my list explaining the changes I had made and clearly stated that if an image was not in one of those two portfolios, then it was not hand colored. I decided this was better than having only my new, digital work on the website (which was an option I did consider...)

How something is created is not as important as why. I know I have said that here before, but writing this has helped cement that idea (hopefully for the last time)

Way cheaper than therapy............thank you!


  1. Thank you for sharing your thought process Dianne. I think many of us hear those 'shoulds' and it's helpful to read your thoughts--and see that you were able to find a way to sort it all out.

    1. Thanks Hannah! I think that is the beauty of the internet. We find out we are not alone. Most of us deal with the same issues and sharing about our process may help someone else! Hope to see you soon!

  2. Let me be the one to say that after seeing the above in person, they are beautiful. That paper is gorgeous and just enhances your work! Good for you!