Tag Archives: handcoloring.

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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Secrets 2 – I opened up (another) Pandora’s box, yet again.

A long time ago, like about 1973 at No. Va. Community College, a photo teacher made a suggestion to the class that has always stuck in my mind.

“Every once in a while, pull out a bunch of your proof sheets, and look ’em over, see if maybe, just maybe, a frame tickles your imagination that hadn’t before.”

I do that regularly. And one day recently i came across this image:


It was taken at Musee Mechanique while it was still on the bottom floor of Cliff House / Ocean beach/ SF, CA. Love this single frame, just big hi-lites, deep shadows. Late afternoon light blows in the windows, selectively illuminating whatever it will, old time amusements, before TV or radio, or internet (a constantly suffocating presence). The place was smelly, cramped & noisy as hell. I shot alot of interesting negs there.

The Musee mechanique image *really* piqued my interest not just by itself, but for something else i had done a few years ago, a darkroom print 11×14″


This was definitely made to be monochromatic, B&W, no color.

But the MM image could definitely be colored!


First i just did some digital coloring on the straight image.

Then printed that, and attacked it w/ colored pencils for the details.


Then i put together a digital image, using the previous sky with the Musee mechanique image.


Printed those, and pencil colored them. Is this crazy or what? Did i go out on a limb?? Yep, fer sure. Glad i did. I learned just how long that ‘limb’ could be. And how bouncy and resilient.

Here’s a few alternates, a bit ‘softer’:Secrets2_alt.CLR


“It starts with you telling the image what it will be. It ends with the image telling you what it will be.”

Robert Rauschenberg

So i felt like a tennis ball being whacked back and forth over a net. Sometimes it’s better to relinquish control, give in to ‘the force’.

Maybe one day I’ll do a darkroom print of this … when i decide how i want to color it.