Kallitype Update – Hand Coloring Continued

Greetings and happy December everyone! Jen Perena here with a short update on my progress with hand coloring my kallitypes, and a few notes about what comes next.

I’m now about half way through painting the prints in the vegetation series, and am starting to feel a little pressure to get everything done, including having all my work peer reviewed, then scanned, then matted and framed, by the end of December. The way that Christmas falls this year (on a Tuesday) means we have a very small window of time that we can hang the show (based on Photo Dept/FCAC holiday closures and end of year tasks), and while we have a back-up date (a single day in January where we could work around groups that will be using the Sunken Room) I would really like to have everything done and in the hands of the talented Photo Dept folks who will hang the show before the end of the year. So yes, some of the pressure is self imposed, but it has to be that way or I will procrastinate!

Here are a couple of my latest works. The first is an image of a cactus that I saw in Austin, TX. I had never seen a cactus like that before, but since seeing it I am noticing similar ones all over (botanical gardens, plant sales, at friends’ homes), and so I finally looked it up and it is a ‘crested euphorbia lactea’. (If you disagree leave a comment and tell me what it is!) The color ‘in real life’ was sort of yellowy green to blueish green, and very pastel; for the watercoloring I did a mix and I have to say this is my favorite one so far.

Hand-colored kallitype of Crested Euphorbia Lactea cactus

The second one is an image I made during a recent trip to Ganna Walska Lotusland in Santa Barbara, CA. If you’ve never been, it is like a botanical garden on steroids – you could walk around for hours and hours and still not see everything; in each ‘season’ it is different, and they are always updating the gardens and displays. I’ve visited twice in the last few years and it is one of my favorite places – full of color and texture, and lots of amazing things you won’t see anywhere else. This is from a row of aloe-like plants that lined a walking path. The sun was at just the right angle to make a lot of shadows and thus a lot of contrast, and I took numerous shots of this same section. I think this one is the most interesting composition-wise, though I need to play with the color a bit more – I want it to be more subtle/less saturated.

Hand-colored kallitype of giant aloe-like plant

I hope to finish up all the watercoloring this week, have my peer review next week (my choice to show the entire body of work to some trusted friends for input and final culling), then scan everything (I might create a zine….), and finally mat (or affix) and frame everything the week of Christmas so that by Friday 12/28, all 20 images are ready to hang.

I’ll write at least one more blog post between now and then with some of my final decisions (cut mats or affix to the top of each mat board? make a zine or not? etc). In the meantime, hopefully you have received the promotional postcard in the mail, and if not, here it is, front and back. Included are the gallery details and hours, exhibit dates (start and end) and dates/times for the reception as well as my Artist Talk and Demo. I hope you can make it!


Kallitype Update: Layering on Color

Hafa Adai! Jen Perena here, fresh off the plane from Guam….well, actually I have been back in Rochester now for a few days, but with the jet lag (Guam is a 15-hr time difference), I am all kinds of messed up time wise, and I have been mostly sleeping since arriving home, so it seems like only yesterday I was on the beach….

My two weeks in Guam went very fast; there were ups and downs: we were lucky with awesome weather and lots of sunshine (only sprinkled on us once); but my back went out on day 3 of the training workshop I was delivering and I had to be hospitalized (briefly – I was released 6 hrs later….); my husband was able to fly over from the Philippines to celebrate our 24th anniversary with me and we had a great day touring the island followed by a very nice dinner; but I gained too many pounds to count stuffing myself like a pig from the decadent and delicious island food; my training workshop was a great success thanks to the hard work and dedication of my students; and then I arrived home to roughly a foot of snow, 38 degrees, drizzle and gray skies. Hafa Adai! (Which means hello and welcome in the local Guamanian Chamorro language).

Anyway, I have been using the time I have been unable to sleep productively! Finally I made some progress watercoloring the ‘vegetation’ set of kallitypes I made in between Italy and Guam.

Me, bundled up because I don’t want to put on the heat yet, watercoloring one of my kallitypes

Getting back into it reminded me of the challenges I faced the last time I hand colored some of my kallitypes a few years back: when to stop and leave it alone! And, surprisingly, I used some of the darker images as practice, and I kind of like them better than the lighter, more underexposed ones, which I thought would work better. But you be the judge. Here are a couple samples:

This is the print that I deemed overexposed – but the color against it looks really nice
This is the slightly underexposed print and I don’t like it as much. What do you think?

Check out my  #kallitypegirl Instagram page for a few more examples of recent hand-colored kallitypes and let me know what you think! I’ll leave you with one photo from Guam to get you through what looks to be a cold and dreary week:

View of Ypao Beach on Tumon Bay, northern Guam (also the view from my hotel room….)

Adios! (Guam was colonized by Spain in the 1600’s and a lot of the Spanish language lives on in their day to day speech!)  And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Kallitype Weekend Update

Hi everyone! Jen Perena here, fresh out of the darkroom. Well, 15 hours ago I actually left the Silver Den, but it FEELS like I am fresh out of the darkroom!

I finally resumed making work this past weekend (after almost a month of not making any work!), with a goal of finishing all of my printing so I can fully concentrate on water coloring the pieces for the ‘vegetation’ half of the show. I’m not 100% sure I accomplished that because I left work drying on the rack, and it always dries down darker, but I feel good about it.

Here are a few pics (iPhone photos of the work fresh out of the wash, so please excuse the reflections…) of what I made on Saturday. I spent 5 hours in the darkroom and made 8 prints that day. This set had close to the “right” exposure times (3.5 minutes) based on the richness of the final tones, though they look a bit too dark and flat to me:

Kallitype of large aloes or some kind of agave or succulent; I love this one but it is a little too dark for hand coloring
This one definitely has the right exposure, but could benefit from a teeny bit more contrast for my liking


Kallitype of snap peas and squash blossoms – also a tad too dark for hand coloring


Kallitype of kohlrabi – pretty good, but see if you can detect the ‘invisible’ root (it was purple and came out so dark it looks barely there)

On Sunday I returned to the darkroom, but when I checked the rack, I felt that the dried-down images from Saturday were a bit dark, so I reprinted everything at 3 minutes, plus added a single drop of the dichromate contrast booster to the emulsion chemistry. After washing each one, I felt they looked closer to what I am going for in terms of slightly underexposed so I can watercolor into the grayer areas. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the second set; after 6 (more) hours and 9 (more) prints I was pretty tired, and it slipped my mind.

Next week at this time I will be in Guam; I am heading there for work for 2 wks and will be back Nov 17. I will try to make at least one post during that time…but it won’t be about my work (kallitypes nor watercoloring nor actual reason I am there)….more likely tropical waterfalls and beach scenes, which I know you will all love as November gets colder and grayer! But soon, I promise a sneak peek at my watercoloring!