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Painting on Photographs



Photographs not only act as documents of places, visited events etc., but also allow the viewer a window to maybe see beyond the reality of the shiny card and glimpse into a world of frozen time and space. Naturally the viewer does not have the ‘real’ experience of that time and that space, but they may have had a similar experience to that portrayed. However, this is not necessary to appreciate a photograph. It is this factor that makes photography an interesting medium to work in, with almost immediate points of reference for viewers to grab on to, more likely to see an image which they can recognise as the truth, a reality or fact. Photographs generate interest in most people, glimpses of someone we know looking stupid, a baby, a sunset. Glimpses of the real world and memory provoking.


It doesn’t actually matter what experience, or emotions the photograph is trying to convey it is still a ‘second-hand’ image. The interest is gathered by the viewers recognition of the familiar.

We seem to accept this concept of the second hand experience quite naturally, and in many forms and styles, painting, music, film and even food production. In each case it is the communication of the illusion that is imperative. A disconnection from the viewers immediate environment, escapism in short.


When painting over a photograph I am adding a real physical experience to it, more realistic than perhaps even the photograph itself. The experience has not necessarily any connection with the object or scene that the photograph is trying to portray, but more of a reaction to the photograph itself, taking it for what it is, actual paper, thus shattering any illusion that the photograph was perceived to hold. A physical experience of the photograph, touching it.

When a photograph is being produced it should not be touched unless it spoils the illusion, of reality which it is trying to convey.

scratch painting - "On Photographs gallery"


The photographic paper/ card is hard wearing (can take a lot of abuse). It is none porous so it is a physical effort to force pigment and marks onto it, I paint over pre-exposed , already developed photographs recycled from the dark room floor. It seems more organic to "paint" over a preexisting image rather than face the white page.


Photographs are representative of mans control over his environment. The constant insistence that all around him must be monitored and recorded, and therefore regarded as fact, even to the extent of believing in the old adage ‘the camera never lies.’ When we know full well that this isn’t true, as we ourselves are influenced by such lies.


The majority of the "On Photographs" artworks were made as a part of a sequence usually in groups of twelve, sixteen or twenty four. Each image thus becoming an individual part of the full story, as if it were a frame in a roll of film, a sequence tile in a storyboard or even a chapter in a book. The images being connected to their neighbour by the physicality of my actions.

I will expand further on this method and my thoughts behind it in a future post and will also include an example of its effectiveness when adjacent to a written piece of abstracted text.



bounce - "On Photographs gallery" art4oka.com







drop - "On Photographs gallery" art4oka.com







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