(Creating amazing art using not so perfect printed photos!) by Marianne Perry; for FireCracker Designs
Commercially printed photos
Scrap Paper or Mat to work on
Scrap of Clear Plastic/acetate/transparency
150 and 400 grit sandpapers
Acrylic paints (optional)
Stazon or Other Permanent Inkpads
Any black inkpad (optional)
Markers (Galaxy markers work really well with this technique)
Marianne says: I was inspired by an article in the Premiere Issue of ClothPaperScissors, Winter, 2004. Here’s my version of things:
Choose a commercially printed photo that you would normally throw away because it’s blurry, poorly composed or badly lit, etc. I chose this one because the foreground is blurry and uninteresting and the background contains a trashcan and a sign along with the bench.
Look through your stamp collection to find designs that might enhance your photo. To audition it on your photo, stamp it in any black ink on a scrap of plastic/transparency/acetate so you can position it over your photo. I chose the birdbath from Pam’s set, A Little Bird Told Me-4×5114. I wanted the birds to be in the sunny light green area of the scene and possibly use some of the stone walkway for the birdbath itself. If you want to keep the clear stamped image, stamp it in the permanent ink: otherwise, you can wipe the image off the plastic and reuse it another time.
Wet the photo under running water and shake off the excess. Working over a mat or scrap paper and using medium grade sandpaper like 150 grit, create a border around the photo by sanding off the photo emulsion. Wipe each edge off with a rag as you go while the photo is wet. Rewet the photo with a spray of water if it starts to dry while you are working. Otherwise, the photo starts to feel tacky and your rag will stick to it. Landscape photos turn a brownish color as you sand, get off as much as you can now and then redo the edges again later after you’ve made any adjustments to the size.
Now that you have the feel of sanding on the photo, go into the center and with a light touch, use the 150 sandpaper to remove the things you don’t want in the photo. (Remember you were going to throw this picture away anyway so there is nothing to lose, if you ‘mess it up’.) Set the photo aside until it is completely dry and doesn’t feel tacky at all. The 400 grit sandpaper can then be run over the whole photo to dull it down if desired. This will also allow water based paints and markers to stick to it better but you don’t need to do it for acrylics. (Just brush away the debris once the photo is all dry.)
Notice this sanded photo no longer has the bench, sign, or trashcan in it anymore? I’ve also roughed up the edges of the path, so my hand painted images will blend in nicely.
Now that you’ve gotten your background ready, place the sample image (the one you stamped earlier on the transparency/acetate) to make sure everything is the way you want it to look.
When you are sure you have the background cleaned up the way you want it, you can stamp your image with the Stazon inkpad, right on the photo. Start adding some background interest with inks, other images, or paints (like I’ve done here)
Since I can’t really paint or draw, I go for an impression of grass, leaves and flowers rather than an exact interpretation of a specific flower. Use any acrylic paints and a small paint brush to dab on a base of green for plants then add strokes, dots, and blobs for leaves and flowers.
Markers can be used to cover random sanded marks and for fine details like the birds and shadows on the birdbath.
While I was working on this, I decided the sky and several bare branches in the top left were distracting and led the eye out of the picture. I cut off the top, re-wet the edge with a damp cloth and then redid the sanded border above the branches and sky. I rewet and re-sanded the other borders to clean them up. I also added “A Little Bird Told Me…” from the same stamp set in the empty spot at the bottom right. Then I chose a matte and card base for the card.
Like any other art, this technique is limited only by our imaginations. You can add cutout images, 3D elements, sewing, etc. You can turn a boring photo into something pretty, hilarious or surreal, depending on what you add or take away. Experiment with whatever art supplies you have!