Artist Interview: Susan Bock

Posted by Jenni Kirby - August 25 2020

Susan Bock ran into a snag in pursuing her artistic medium a few years back that challenged her to create a unique technique. Her medium is hand-tinted photography which became obsolete when darkrooms disappeared, and digital photography became mainstream. “The traditional process would take a film negative and create a print in the darkroom,” Bock explains. “After it dried it would be tinted with a transparent oil paint that is made for photographs.”
Once printing original negatives became a problem, rather than giving up, Bock worked to find a solution. “What I did was create a process where I could either scan a picture or get a digital file from a library somewhere and print it on an inkjet printer on a special paper,” she says. Then the company that made the paper went out of business. She had to figure out another way.
Bock says, “I had to find a new paper. In order to paint on that new paper, I have to spray that paper with a special spray so I can still use my oil paints.” In a way she is making something old new again using a method that combines the new technology of digital photography with the old way of hand tinting.
The good part about using digital images is that the files are really clear and can be made even crisper in photoshop. “With the old way it would be impossible to clean the negatives up if they were in really bad shape,” Bock says.
When asked why she doesn’t just tint the images in photoshop like other artist’s do, Bock says, “I like the control I have over the colors with the traditional paints. I can mix them any way I like, and you just can’t do that with a computer.”
Creative solutions are one thing we love at CAC!