The following post is from the archives. It originally appeared in August, 2011.
Drawing over over old photographs is a fun way to turn old images into new treasures. Not only is the process totally enjoyable, but the product can be turned into postcards that are fun to mail to family and friends.
Old photos can be found in thrift stores, antique stores, garage sales, reuse centers, and mom’s attic. Can you think of anywhere else?
To start, I collected a big, random stack of photos when we visited the San Francisco re-use shop, SCRAP, with the idea that we’d use them for some kind of collage.
And then I remembered doing a fun photo painting project at some point in my own past, which inspired the direction we took this.
N recently started representing objects in her drawings, so I thought she might be at a point where we could have some fun playing with the intersection of realism and abstraction.
N likes to find new places to create, and on this day it was the kitchen floor. To do this project, all you need is a stack of old photos and some paint pens like these Elmer’s Painters Pens. Sharpies would work too, but with a slightly different effect.
Print a Recipe
- Paint Pens (such as Elmer's Paint Pens)
- Old Photographs (or photos printed on photo paper)
- Covered table or work area, since paint pens can be permanent
- Smock to protect clothing
- Place a stack of photos and a bucket of paint markers in the middle of the work area.
- If your pens are brand new, depress them ahead of time to get the paint flowing.
- Offer your child a stack of photos to sort through and choose from.
- Each of you will choose one photo to work with.
- Draw over the photos in any way you see fit.
- Display the photos or turn them into postcards and mail them to friends and family.
If you don’t have any *actual* photos lying around, you could try sourcing them at a thrift store, cut images out of a magazine, or print your own photos onto photo paper or card stock.
After I drew on a photo that she started, N said to me, “you do it your way and I’ll do it my way.” Yikes. I’m usually really sensitive to drawing on kids’ art, and I learned that she didn’t see this as a collaboration — she was okay drawing on my photos, but didn’t want me to draw on hers.
So, I took a few big steps back and allowed her to do it her way!
What do you think? Have you tried this yourself? Any other ideas on what we could do with these works of art? Do you have a favorite spot for collecting treasures for reuse?
Re-use Shopping Resources
I Heart RAFT (SF Bay Area)
National (US) search for contractor/building reuse: Building Materials Reuse Association
Find FREE stuff on Craigslist: List of SF Bay Area resources
Find FREE stuff in your neighborhood through the Freecycle network
Surplus Sales at Stanford University
East Bay Depot Creative Reuse (Berkeley, Oakland, CA)
Reuse Resources via East Bay Depot Creative Reuse