My mother

My mother had a job colouring black and white portrait photos. She had a great talent for it. After she had children she did it at home. She would sit in the sunroom, mix up the paint on the back of her hand and work away. She would always tell us not to thump around. I think walking was considered thumping. Of course I'd roll my eyes, but when you look at her work you can see why a step would seem like a thump. I think she used the stick end of a fine paintbrush with cotton wool twisted around it.

I've seen examples of other peoples work but I've never seen any as fine as my mothers work. You often see lips off mark and great round circles of rosy cheek and fairly shabby work in general. She put so much time into the details as you can see.

These first two are my sister. You can see all the strands of hair in the first and all the dots and flowers on the second dress must have taken some skill and patience. Papa took the photos. We sat for them every few years. Mum had a huge album of them but she pulled it apart recently and gave us our pictures.


The next two are me. Pink Teddy – love of my life. Again the detail is amazing. Good work Judith.


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31 thoughts on “My mother

  1. How perfectly, perfectly exquisite. I collect hand-tinted postcards; the ones from the teens only have the costumes colored – the skin remained sepia – and the ones from the '20's generally have fine skin, but the clothes are colored loudly and rather clumsily.
    These are just marvelous.

  2. Amazingly true colours. Your mum was an artist. I've got an uncle who used to do exactly this when B&W pics ruled. But his colours were always a bit wonky and almost done in Soviet-styled propaganda.

  3. Think she had a great love for it. Pity she had to stop. She's just started scrapbooking her fathers life and the book is wonderful. She has a good eye for things. Was the same with her garden.

  4. thanks tamzen – it was my grandfather taking the photos though, my mums father. My own father never had much of an interest in photography.

  5. She's 73 now and has just bought a laptop and she's thinking about getting photoshop. She'd love it. I always think it's a shame my grandfather wasn't around to see the whole digital thing happen. He'd have loved it as well.

  6. Holy shit, your mother was insanely talented. I studied photography in high school and college and did a few hand-painted photos so I know how hard it is. The ones I did weren't even in the same league.

  7. she kept them nice and natural. The top dress with all those spots on it must have taken some time. Lol – it's only when you grow up that you can appreciate things like that. When we were kids we couldn't have cared less what she was foing.

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