THE NOSTALGIA PROJECT
A random photograph found at the bottom of a box at a flea market or an antiques shop invites questions:
How did the photo end up in this box?
Who is this person in the photo?
Who took the photo and why?
What is happening?
Where was this photo taken?
Left in a box of estate junk without context and often without any identification on the back of the image, it is left to interpretation and reinvention. This project is an artist experiment to breathe life into found vintage photographs.
Found vintage photography can be intriguing: Idyllic luscious settings, expressive eyes and mouths capture our attention. A mundane snapshot of everyday life can also catch our eye with curiosity. Vintage photography often creates a sense of sweet nostalgia and we can find ourselves lost in sentimental associations. In the most recent film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the character Laurie says “It always looks so idyllic when I look down and see you through the parlor window in the evenings. It’s like the window is a frame and you’re all part of a perfect picture.” Jo replies, “You must cherish your illusions if they make you happy.”
The paintings in the Nostalgia Project are an illusion that creates a new narrative for people who lived, died and in between had a lifetime of perfection and agony, happiness and tragedy, love, desire and breath. Painted interpretations and stories open the door to the viewers own life experiences and nostalgia.
Vintage photographs (see below) are purchased from antique shops and shows.
Once in the studio the images are displayed until they reveal their story to me. This can take five minutes or several months. Research is done to be sure I am as accurate as possible with the stories I develop. These stories become my inspiration and they are recorded and edited often until I am ready to paint.
The photograph is not edited. It is enlarged to a large format size onto bond paper. In the studio it is mounted onto cradled board. Using photographs in a painting is often called collage or mixed media.
In this stage of experimentation with the project, I approach each painting with different techniques and that will likely shift moving forward as I develop this body of work. I allow some of the image to show through and other parts of the photograph to be completely overpainted. Some of these paintings have more overpainting than others, as you'll see in the painting “Henry” -- the formal portrait of a man in his hat. The technique in the painting titled “Joe” -- of the man seated in a garden -- features layers of washes, some overpainting and gold paint to highlight his chair, finished with a coat of resin.
You can see more of my work with photographs done over the past 15 years by selecting the Mixed Media tab at the top of this page.