A derelict (Salton sea) motel sign = a blank slate.


The darkroom montage print was done w/sky/clouds at top, dodged smoothly out to 0 about 1/3rd down from top. The cactus was exposed much the same way, except from the bottom up. Leaving plenty of room for the motel sign in the middle.


This one was multiple choice – there are several, perhaps many, variations, two areas that could be done several ways.

The sky – could be very blue, or muted, the stars could be white, or perhaps colored.

The motel sign could be colored in a number of ways, too.

The cactus at bottom pretty much has to be green/cactus.

I did a couple of quick/large area Hue /saturation layers to get some basic color going on, then printed out 2 copies on letter paper, and went to work w/ colored pencils. Illuminating indeed.


Then I moved on the the final print. I decided the sign needed to be more colorful, and the swooping arrow too, and kinda split the difference between the sketch’s color for the sky. I thought the stars needed to affect the sign, which hasn’t been lit up in a while. Perhaps the stars want to give it some help, breathe new life into it. As usual, water color first, especially the letters in the sign, then on to oils. After scanning, a good hit of Hue/Saturation.


BTW, i used the sign once before, a long time ago, a rather wild and crazy print:


And if old/vintage signs pique your interest:




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Curtain in the window – Bodie CA

I had 3 different darkroom prints of this one, the varying element being the sky at the top. 


Here’s the negs:



There was also a cloudy sky that got into the act:


I thought this one could definitely benefit from being colored, but which one… and how..? was an open ended question, perhaps even multiple choice solutions. I did some digital coloring, just large areas, and then small prints that i attacked with colored pencils, seeking the ‘aha!’ moment.

What i decided upon was this:


The section of curtain in the center became the focus, lighter than all else. Why? I don’t know exactly. It’s OK to ask questions you can’t answer. If it feels right? Just do it, no explanations or apologies necessary.

Perhaps the Nevada rock face is one thing – a solid severe wall… and the window, something else, the potential for a view. The curtain? Perhaps it shades from the sun, but obscures the view. Is it your choice or perogative to push it aside, get a better view?

hand coloring black and white photos