With the development of color photography the rendering of photographic hand coloring tell into near disuse. Though many black and white photographers worked temporarily with color applied by hand, this technique existed as a limited area in photographic art. In recent months we have seen a decided trend toward updated use of this simple, yet unlimited technique.
From the moment photography was first available, the public, familiar with painted miniatures, regretted that the new invention did not have color. Although they were captivated by its incredible detail and rich tonality this was not enough. The daguerrotype still needed color to give it the sense of reality it lacked, and so the studio photographer in order to please his customers developed the skill of painting over his images.
Not unlike the Victorians, Elizabeth Lennard paints photographs. However, her intent is not to invest her pictures with reality. Quite the contrary. If anything her imagery communicates a mysterious unreality.
Elizabeth Lennard, 25, began taking photographs of neighborhood kids when she was 16. In her last semester of high school she took a photography class, though she had no intentions at that time of becoming a photographer. Later, while in art school, Elizabeth studied drawing and lithography, and worked with watercolors and pastels. She began experimenting with hand coloring during her first year in art school, and since then has developed an impressive technique. Why hand color and not color film? "There are many reasons," she says. I like the texture of oil paint on a print. I don't like the object that a color photograph is. Paint gives a more organic, living substance to the hand colored photograph. And I love color."
Lennard uses the structural manifestations of the American urban and suburban landscape and transmutes them into something unsettling but beautiful. Ms. Lennard uses color to reinvent reality and create a magical world of her own making.
Sensuous pinks, greens, and yellows in ice cream tints are Lennard's magic. Her rearrangement of the familiar is not through the conventional juxtaposition of surprising form, but through an alchemy of color that forces us to reexamine our surroundings and delight in them. Lennard's is the yellow brick road, to a world of "what ifs," that enables us briefly 10 repair our tired sensibilities and once more see with joy and surprise of a child.
Sometimes it is easier for a foreigner to observe cultural phenomena in a detached way. And so the French appreciate Lennard's work to the extent that they have shown her in their most prestigious showplace, The Centre Nationale d' Art Moderne, Georges Pompidou, in Paris.