Silver And Oil
A "Mixed Media" With Archival Qualities

All Photos © 2004, Jack Jeffers, All Rights Reserved

After spending more than 30 years documenting the Appalachians and publishing two books about the region, I retired to Lander, Wyoming, in 1996, to fulfill a childhood dream of living and working as a western artist. Higher mountains would mean greater challenges, I thought.

The western landscape provides me with a new dimension to expand my artistic skills. I am now combining the silver image with transparent oils, a process more commonly referred to by the layman and photographic world as "tinting." The western scene, with its never-ending variety of colors and grandeur, is perfectly suited for this traditional technique that has been around for well over 100 years.

Golden aspen, Sinks Canyon, Wyoming

Wyoming outback, near Twin Creek.

I use only fiber-based papers and a representative from Marshall's (the company that produces the photo oils used, distributed by BKA) recently assured me that the inorganic pigments that make up the oils will last as long as the silver image. Thus, I create works of art that will more than compete with the archival qualities of paintings and other two-dimensional media. I feel that it is my way of leaving something of historical and artistic value behind for future generations to enjoy.

In art circles, silver and oil would normally be classified as "mixed media." It is time-consuming and detailed work, and it's necessary to be a competent printer before you think about painting. The work print must be made with a painting in mind. For instance, if you want to emphasize the red areas of a canyon as red you should use a red filter when exposing the negative to produce a light area on the print that will take the red oil. On golden aspens a yellow filter helps to lighten the leaves even more than a normal exposure on PXP film. Usually a slightly lighter print than usual is desirable, but after a few tests you learn to visualize the final combination of print and oil.

Some decades ago I worked with oil on canvas to develop my own techniques for applying and layering colors on photographic papers. In addition, I attended a number of seminars on acrylics and watercolors to broaden my education in painting. With this background and continued practice, I made the transition from canvas and watercolor paper to photographic papers quite naturally.

Red Rock Country, Wyoming.

Wyoming cowboy, silver and oil.

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I like photos with a twist rather than a simple picture that does not even have any messages that is delivered through it. - Scott Safadi