How archival is hand colouring?

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walbergb

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I can process and tone a b&w print to be as archival as possible, but what happens to the print's longevity if I hand colour it with either pencils or oil?
 

momus

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Oils could be the problem, depending on the quality you use. Pencils should be fine. If you have a gelatin print mixed w/ oil paints, that may be a problem over time. If you use any solvent to thin the paint you WILL have a problem. If you're going over fiber paper w/ oil paint, there's an issue too. The oil is going to discolor and eat away at the paper. Oil paints never dry by the way, for all practical purposes. A lot depends on your technique. If you're very gently and lightly brushing on top of the print I wouldn't worry about it, but I would definitely use high quality paints, and there is no guarantee doing this due to the nature of your mediums. Not all oil paints are permanent either, so you want to use something w/ a high permanency rating. Whenever oils are used on a surface for a painting, the surface is always (hopefully) coated w/ something like gesso or rabbits skin glue to keep the paint away from the surface beneath, or the linseed oil will eat up the surface and also attract and grow all sorts of bacteria.

You could use ink, acrylic or water color paints safely, although you won't get the same look.
 
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AgX

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You could use ink, acrylic or water color paints safely, although you won't get the same look.

Those, as pencils, may degrade as well. It has nothing to do with the solvent but with the dyes and binders.
 

pentaxuser

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The above posts make hand-colouring with oil paint sound distinctly problematical. I had always assumed that oils for prints were relatively archival. Are these references to oil as in Marshall's oils which are designed for hand-colouring silver gelatin prints?

To help settle how long prints last based on actual experience, what's the oldest hand-coloured oil prints anyone here on APUG has?

Thanks

pentaxuser
 

AgX

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So far I have not considered them problematic.
I do not know of any specific interaction between the possibly used dyes, inks, binders with the emulsion (or just ist top-coat). To the contrary, I can imagine so with plain paper or some base varnish.

I just would try to get hold of a datasheet with the light fading characteristics of the material to be used for hand colouring.
 

Ian Grant

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The above posts make hand-colouring with oil paint sound distinctly problematical. I had always assumed that oils for prints were relatively archival. Are these references to oil as in Marshall's oils which are designed for hand-colouring silver gelatin prints?

To help settle how long prints last based on actual experience, what's the oldest hand-coloured oil prints anyone here on APUG has?

Thanks

pentaxuser

Oldest I have is around 59 years, then 57 and 54, all have been hanging on a wall since they were produced, the colours haven't faded at all as far as I ca tell. All 3 are portraits of us at one year old.

My own hand coloured work has always been with retouching dyes and they are reasonably light fast, except perhaps if exposed to bright sunlight on a regular basis. No changes in over 30+ years.

Ian
 

eddie

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There's no issue with quality oils and pencils. Use good quality oils, though. I use Marshall's, Pebeo, Winsor & Newton, Veronica Cass, etc. I use matte fiber paper, have been doing it for about 30 years, and have seen no degradation, even on my early prints.
There are many 19th century examples, still around...
 
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I have an oil colored portrait that my mother had done when I was 2 or 3, guessing 1943/4. It looks as if it was done yesterday. No cracks or fading.

I also Navy portraits done of my father. Probably 1943 or 44 based on his rank. They are fresh as a daisy.

How long color will last ? Lots of my stuff from 1960 is gone. Digital is anyone`s guess
 

Vaughn

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Oils on silver gelatin prints -- probably last longer than the prints without the oils (keeping gasses from the silver compounds).
 

pentaxuser

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Thanks all - there's nothing like experience! If 10,000 people all drink from the same barrel of orange juice and one dies then it suggests that we should look at the deceased for a reason for death rather than examine the orange juice :D

pentaxuser
 

Jim Jones

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The above posts make hand-colouring with oil paint sound distinctly problematical. I had always assumed that oils for prints were relatively archival. Are these references to oil as in Marshall's oils which are designed for hand-colouring silver gelatin prints?

To help settle how long prints last based on actual experience, what's the oldest hand-coloured oil prints anyone here on APUG has?

Thanks

pentaxuser

A hand colored photo of my mother remains in good condition after 100 years, despite being unframed for much of that time.
 

Mike Crawford

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My grandmother used to hand colour prints back in the 40s and 50s. Indeed she gave me her set of Windsor & Newton pencils/crayons many, many years ago which were specifically produced for colouring bw prints. The prints that are still around of hers at my parents are all doing fine. Actually, was looking at my parent's wedding photo from about 55 years ago at Christmas time which was hand coloured. Not sure if the colouring was done by the photographer or Granny, (I must ask), but is looking absolutely fine.
 

fotch

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Don't oil paintings last centuries? Anyway, oil colored photos I have are at least 70 yrs. old, no sign of problems.
 
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walbergb

walbergb

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Thanks everyone. I'm just starting to experiment with hand colouring. I have a set of Marshall's photo oils and a set of Prismacolor pencils. The book that I am following is Hand Coloring Black & White Photography by Laurie Klein. She uses a turpentine & vegetable oil mixture to wash the pencil marks away. That sounds like it might be harsh on the silver gelatin print.
 

eddie

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Bob- I use eraserstik-style typewriter erasers to remove the pencil marks. I've never used any sort of solvents on my prints.
 
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walbergb

walbergb

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Bob- I use eraserstik-style typewriter erasers to remove the pencil marks. I've never used any sort of solvents on my prints.

The vegetable oil/turpentine solution is used to smooth out the pencil marks over a large area.
 

eddie

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I know, but I've come up with a simpler method. I use pink tipped eraserstik-style erasers to smooth the pencil marks. The pink tipped one's are very soft. You just need a steady hand. I don't like the additives because they attract dust/pollen/etc., and take a while to dry. It also avoids problems with bleeding into painted areas. I've been hand coloring for about 30 years, and have used this method since close to the beginning. All of the hand colored work I've posted to the Gallery have been done this way.
 
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