Wednesday, August 02, 2006

a special mother's day gift for evelyn - 2006

this is a project that i actually worked on in april and may, and we presented the "finished product" to jerry's mother on mother's day -- may 14, 2006. i've just now gotten around to posting this b/c i didn't think of it as "artwork" to post, but then realized that someone might be interested in this project, too. so, here is part of the reason i wasn't getting much artwork done and/or posted in the spring!

after jerry's mother, evelyn, saw that i could make changes to pictures, she called me and said, "jill, somewhere i have a picture of myself from when i was about 2 years old, sitting in my dad's chair and holding my little dollie. that has always been my favorite picture, but it has been terribly torn up and damaged over the years. i actually threw it in the trash the last time i was sorting pictures, but i just couldn't stand to part w/ it -- so i grabbed it back out of there. i just couldn't part w/ it. can you do anything w/ that picture to repair it?"

i hadn't seen the picture at the time, so i told her that i didn't know -- but when i found the picture i would try to do what i could. my "picture-fixing" skills were very limited and i was learning them as i needed them, so i didn't really know if i could do it or not.

here is a scan of the original picture provided to me from my mother-in-law. the picture measured 7 x 7 and was probably taken in 1928, i'm guessing. evelyn was born in march, 1926, and that looks like about a 2 to 2 1/2 year old sitting there.

the first step i did was to crop out the distracting edges of the picture and also that took out some of the damaged area, too.

i started at the outside edges and worked on the background areas first, working to improve my ability level before going on to more difficult things in the picture. i saved the picture after each major work session or before trying something new and difficult. that way, i could just "un-do" or "revert back to last saved copy" and scrap any screw-ups that i had made. trust me -- that happened a lot of times! and i'm such a freak about "backing things up" that i had copies save on the home computer, laptop, and jump drive -- just in case!

the damage that went right across the subject's face and body were the most difficult to fix. i would work and work and then un-do and un-do and try again.

i was making a lot of progress at this point and was quite proud of what i was getting done and learning in the process, but i just had so much to do/learn before i was done. all this time, every time i spoke w/ evelyn, she always asked me about this picture. for a while, i stalled her w/ saying that i had been too busy to work on it. then i told her that i had so many things i had to learn that i wasn't sure i could do it. then i told her that i was working on it, but it was going to take a lot of time.

to fill in the bottom of the picture, i copied and pasted other sections of the grass across there and merged those layers together. then i copied and pasted sections of the chair legs. this part of the picture is probably the easiest to tell where i fixed it b/c the sections i used were too repetitious -- but most people (well, everyone so far) hasn't noticed that. it's one of those "faults" in my art that i see and it just screams out at me, i guess.

i was almost done, at this point. i could see success dangling just out of reach. just unreachable b/c i couldn't get that damaged area in her hair to "fix" and look natural and like hair should look. it just looked like a big old smudge every time i tried something on it. i was getting very frustrated.

as i stared at the picture, trying to figure out how to "fix" the damage in the hair area and still have it look like natural hair, i saw that the back of her head/haircut looked the same as the front. so i just copied a section of hair from the back of her head, flipped it over and pasted it on the front. then i merged the layers together to hide what i had done and very lightly smudged any tell-tale signs.

by doing it this way, the hair still had that nice, natural, hair "look" and that shine at just the right level. i was thrilled w/ this method working so well and kicked myself in the behind for the hours i had wasted trying to fix it before i can up w/ this idea!

now i had reached the "finished product" -- or at least the best that i could do and i was happy w/ the results and thought she would be, too.

because of the picture's unusual dimensions in today's world (7 x 7), i put it on a solid colored background to make the picture able to print out as an 8 x 10. i didn't want to upload the picture and then try and edit or crop it online. this made it simpler to upload and order a print. an 8 x 10 print from walmart was $3.00 -- a worthy investment!

jerry made a frame for the picture out of some old barnwood that had been weathered and lost its painted color. he did an excellent job, and he's a very fine craftsman -- a definite perfectionist right down to cleaning up his tools and messes when he's done! when he does a project, it's something he'll be proud to show. (my grandmother would've loved him if she were still alive!)

when we gave the picture to evelyn on mother's day, she was shocked and speechless. she just couldn't believe that it was "her" picture. she thought it looked like it have never been damaged. she had tears in her eyes, but couldn't speak as she sat there and just shook her head in disbelief. she hugged me so tight i thought she was going to squeeze the breath out of me -- so i think she loved the picture. when we went to the family reunion in nebraska in june, she took the picture w/ her to show it off. those people who had seen the picture when it was damaged were very impressed w/ the "new" picture and frame.

another project together w/ jerry that went just perfectly! i'd say we make a great team (as long as he doesn't expect me to "build" or "assemble" anything, we'll get along just fine!).

i used my home computer, scanner, and mouse (meaning no wacom tablet lives here yet!) and Paint Shop Pro 8 (Jasc software) to make the changes to the picture.


Blogger KJ McLean said...

When I read about you giving it to Evelyn, I got tears in my eyes.

Having learned a bit of the digital magic myself, I know what amazing things can be done by "tweaking" this or that. But the best part is the reaction when someone is completely bowled over. Well done!

Mon Aug 14, 10:14:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Lin said...


Mon Aug 14, 11:13:00 AM CDT  
Blogger April Storm said...

This is totally awesome Jill. It is so hard to give a really special gift but this will really stick with Jerry's mom. ~~Storm

Mon Aug 14, 12:14:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous shirley said...

What a wonderful story and a fantastic job!

Mon Aug 14, 12:17:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Bonnie Schulte said...

I too, had tears in my eyes when I read this. Love comes in all kinds of different packages, and this was truly a labor of Love. I can't believe either how wonderful the picture turned out. Awesome!! Bonnie in WI

Mon Aug 14, 12:32:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Zee said...

I can totally relate to this. :)

You worked magic, Jill!

You made my eyes tear up as I read this... you done good, girl! :)

Mon Aug 14, 04:32:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Dawn said...

What a wonderful gift you have given not only your mother in law, but her children and grandchildren in so caringly restoring this photo. The frame is great too.

Mon Aug 14, 05:41:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Suzanne G in NC said...

You don't know me, Jill; I am a newbie/lurker. I just have to tell you how much I appreciate you sharing the step-by-step of your process working with your mil's old snapshot. I'm learning digital art as well as pen and pencil. You did a marvelous job; your mom-in-law's photo as she sees your work for the 1st time is also a keeper.

Mon Aug 14, 08:49:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Tammy in Ontario said...

What a wonderful gift! I only wish I could perform magic like this. Awesome work!

Mon Aug 14, 11:27:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you honey for the wonderful gift to my mom. from mr. wonderful

Wed Aug 16, 09:43:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Marilyn said...

What a superb job! I loved the step by step progress. What a wonderful gift. It looks absolutely perfect. Will the wonder of technology ever cease?

Thu Aug 17, 11:12:00 AM CDT  

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