Inkjet print - hand painted!


Supporting Member
Not that it's super important, but I've wanted to be able to use my original Marshall's Photo Oils again for hand painting B&W images, for many years.

These photo oils were designed and intended for use on silver gelatin prints from a darkroom. I have darkroom equipment that I've been unable to set up in my last 2 homes due to space restrictions. Typical inkjet prints, even from a photo printer using pigmented inks, don't accept these oils as the paper usually grabs the medium and leaves you with a glob of a mess as you watch the oils sink in - no blending can be done on the surface of a typical matte or semi-matte inkjet photo paper. You have to have some kind of ground since oil and paper don't mix.

Since I started playing with collage, I've bought different gel mediums for gluing and sealing, and it occurred to me that a liquid gel medium should be able to create the necessary ground/barrier and actual oils should glide right over. (Gesso was an early consideration but somewhat dry, stiff and lacking in smoothness on photo inkjet papers.)

So I tried fluid gel medium it and it worked! We have a few different brands of inkjet photo papers laying around, and I picked Canson Aquarelle since it has nice texture - perfect for hand coloring. After letting the print sit for awhile to make sure it was completely dry, I applied Liquitex fluid matte gel medium with a foam brush over the print in two directions, and then let it dry a couple of hours.

I had picked a photo from a recent roll that had good, even tonal range, not a lot of fussy detail, simply to make the hand coloring go faster.

The road to Point Pelee:

Road to Point Pelee, HC inkjet.jpg

I actually prefer this as a B&W image, since it's infrared film. 😆 But I was going for the even tonal range, so it won the turkey. Here's that version:

Road to Point Pelee B&W.jpg

Anyway, the result makes me happy because it lets me play and experiment further with photo oils - the ground is the thing. So - huzzah!

All comments welcomed and appreciated. Thanks for looking! :)
Know nothing of the process but it looks cool. Actually it is cool but warm with freezing. The leaves work to make it inviting.
It's so cool how you did that, Terri, and it's great that you discovered that fluid gel medium allows you to color your black and white prints. It sounds like a fun process and the result is beautiful!
Wayne, Jo, Donna - thank you all for commenting! I probably make it sound more complicated than it is. 😅 ❤️
Nice work. I remember those hand painted B&W photos from my pro days 60 years ago. They had their own look and making them work was artistry in and of itself.
Years ago my former partner, cousin and artist/photographer experimented with color copier prints. He would add paint touches to the prints and sell them as semi-mass-produced prints at fairs. It worked really well and the purchasers were aware of the medium, even if they didn't fully understand it.
So I was surprised your inkjet experiment was failing you.
I have found that I can duplicate my paintings (or line drawings) on my Epson printer on "inkjet watercolor" stock, whose inks may be a bit different than others. I can then either use water and brush to create more of a watercolor look from the ink on the paper, or I can do something similar adding other media on top (WC, gouache, acrylic). You have to experiment. I have done this only rarely so don't claim extensive experience, but it can work.
Have no idea about oil based media, however. Experiment away!
Bart, Kay - thank you both! ❤️

@Bartc : I think it's fascinating that your former partner was able to apply paints to copier prints - I'm guessing it's the copier inks that allowed it once dry. Perhaps the dry toner made it possible?

Inkjet printers is a catch-all term that doesn't always point out the differences between dye-based inks and pigment-based inks. I'm betting your Epson has pigment inks. Pigments aren't water-soluble in these inks so they will tolerate some water, especially when printed on to inkjet watercolor papers.

But as you pointed out, the medias do make a difference. Everything you mentioned above is water-based, so I don't doubt you had great success. I could go all day just hand painting with wax pencils, or soft pastels. But I prefer to use the real photo oils, so a ground of some kind is necessary. The pigment-based inks won't run when touched with the oils (that's a plus at the factory, when you want your product to accept your own pigment-based inks, and be somewhat archival), but the paper base will simply soak up the oil instantly.

In addition, products change and my former go-to inkjet paper for photo oils was discontinued years ago by Hahnemühle, and I've never come across a paper that matches it. It was coated with something that gave it a visible sheen, and I could print and use oils directly on top with no prep. It was great! And now off the market. *sniffle*
Terri, apparently Epson inks vary and some of those originals might actually mix dye and pigments. Whatever.
Terri, apparently Epson inks vary and some of those originals might actually mix dye and pigments. Whatever.
I know what you mean - some manufacturers have pigment blacks and color dyes, and I've heard some printers even give you a choice.
Hi Terri. I just learned something new from you! So, I went and googled Marshall oil paints and then found a video where some guy was showing how to use them. He used a b/w photo, which was printed on inkjet paper, and mounted to a board. And then, like you, he put a gel medium over the top of the print, but with a roller. When it dried, he used a Q-tip to mix the paints and applied them to the print with what looked like a little round makeup pad. On his print, he wanted to “remove” the white clouds so said that as long as you use the opaque titanium white, mixed with any of the colors, you can hide the underneath “structure” (as he called it). Anyway, this is probably old news to you but new news to me and it looks like fun.

I really like the colored version of your photo and it has a completely different vibe from the original. It looks “old timey” or nostalgic or something but maybe that’s just the natural result of a colored-in photo? It also made me think of Gustave Baumann’s work which I just went and looked at..once again. Do you know him? He was a master of the colored woodblock print but his colors are sort of “unnatural” looking (flat and graphic maybe?)…but soft. Lovely.

Who knows…maybe you’ll find some kind of “artistic kinship” with old Gustave.
Or not.
Thank you, Olive! I looked at Gustave's work - love it! I think I get what you're saying about the look and feel of his work compared to hand colored pieces. He's very good!

And yes, there are lots of little tricks that can be used. ;) I'm happy you liked it!
Oh WOW! I really love this! It's gorgeous and ethereal. I'm mostly talking about the color one. The B/W one feels nostalgic, and I love that one, too, but I'm crazy about the color one with all its textures. The little bit of blues poking through the trees is my favorite part, and how it goes so well with the greens. Maybe I love blues and greens together. You did such a great job with those blends. This is one of my favorites of yours! Just beautiful, Terri! ♥️
Beautiful and very atmospheric this one. I came across (sorry it took so long, but I got stuck on oils) of your other work and it is really beautiful, balanced and full of atmosphere. Love it.