Altered Images

A few weeks ago I shared about working on my Gluebook Goodness project from the Six Degrees of Creativity online workshop.  This weekend I have been working on another workshop--The Altered Image by Fiona Fitzpatrick.  I thought I would share some about my process so that others can try as well.

This workshop involves altering a photograph by hand, not on the computer.  In order to try your own altered image, get a photo that is printed on glossy paper.  I printed my pictures out on my inkjet printer on glossy photo paper.  Then tear the edges of the photo as this will allow the edges to blend more easily into the added background.

Photo with edges torn off

 Using sandpaper, sand off the ink on the part of the photo that you want to remove.  How much of the background you remove is up to you.  You can sand off all the color or leave some behind.  Glue your photograph down on sturdy paper.  I used a piece of lightweight cardboard for this one.

Photograph with background sanded away

You can then use paint, water soluble crayons, tissue paper, or other media to create a new background for your photo.  On this image I created a simple, dark background with acrylic paint and gloss medium to make the flower stand out.  I added tissue paper leaves and layered white tissue paper to create an area to write a quote from painter Georgia O'Keeffe: "Nobody sees a flower-really-it is so small it takes time-we haven't time-and to see takes time."  This quote reminds me to be mindful and take time to appreciate the small, beautiful things around me.

Altered photograph

I created another piece using a photograph from a recent trip to Joshua Tree National Park.  This one is glued to cardstock paper.  I used liquid watercolor paint to paint over part of the photo and then extend the image onto the paper.  I love the image of a tree that is able to thrive in the desert--a hopeful reminder of the capacity to flourish and grow in even the most difficult of circumstances.

These are my beginning attempts at the process, and I would love to try some more with photos of family and friends.  This seems like it would be a great activity for art journaling as well as for use in art therapy with both child and adults clients.

Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT, ATR is a psychotherapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, adolescents, and families.  For more information about individual therapy, child counseling, family therapy, and art therapy services, please visit 

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