I am secretly in love with all things Victorian. Old locks, vintage recipes, tea cups, and yes, photographs. Then I stumbled onto the art of Colin Batty. He takes old photos and tintypes and paints on the actual print to create a new, surreal, scene. Yes, you heard me right, no photoshop in sight. This is a time honored technique done by the Victorians themselves.
Since the first daguerreotypes hit the world in 1839, people have painted on the photos. To a modern person, this seems bizarre, but to a Victorian, a photograph is nothing different than a canvas where the lines have already been drawn. Originally, people wanted to make the image realistic, and that meant color. They used watercolors, oils, crayons or pastels. To learn more about painting on photos, visit Janine Kilroe’s site.
Color and realism are not the aim of artist Colin Batty. He took up his brush to transform estate sale photos into creepy images that scare and excite the viewer. Batty hails from Manchester, England and has worked on films like Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks as well as the Oscar-nominated short The Sandman.
Seeing Batty’s work, I can’t help but think of the Peculiar Children series written by Ransom Riggs. Riggs also digs up estate photos from years ago. Although these photos are unaltered (at least by him) and serve as inspiration for his story.
One other artist springs to mind when you look at Batty’s surreal Victorian images, and that’s Travis Louie. He hand paints each figure to resemble the old daguerreotypes prints. He does this to have full control of the image, whereas Batty simply modifies the image.
I swear, you get the three of these guys together, and they could outfit an entire gallery.