I had no idea what to expect going into this project. On the first day of class this semester, each student in my class was assigned two elements to combine into a project. These elements came from a question on a survey
we took over the summer (with no knowledge that our answer would amount to anything). The question was “What are two things you are currently interested in?” I had spent the week or two before completely absorbed
in tracing my stepmother’s family tree and I had just received a set of watercolor paints, so I answered “genealogy and watercolor painting.” In the span of the next week, I realized just how frustrating watercolor painting was, and put away the watercolor set without thinking much of it, so I was a bit frustrated by needing to bring it back out.
I decided that I wanted to focus on my own family tree for this project, so I contacted my grandmother who
has a large collection of family photos going back to the turn of the 20th century. These are the scans of the original photos that she sent, which I would then print out on transparency paper.
I then loosely trace each photo with watercolor with the aid of a not so great light tablet. I assigned each color
a number and used a random number generator to choose the color for each stroke as a way of giving up
 control of the outcome.
I combined the transparent prints of the photos and the watercolor tracings into a photo album, layering each photo over the corresponding painting. I added context to each photo, listing the names of the people in the photo and the year the photo was taken on the watercolor pages in Isadore, the typeface I designed based on documents from my family tree.
I further explored the form of the watercolor tracings by translating them into Risograph prints. I split each image into 6 colors and then printed them on the Risograph with the corresponding ink colors.
When I was asked why I made the decisions I made in this project, I said that I followed the assignment, which
was to make a project combining our two assigned elements. I didn’t have any theoretical reason for the choices
I made. I just did what I did. I often work based on arbitrary choices and have trouble defining a reason for
those choices.

Scans of original images sent to me by my grandmother.

One of the images edited to be standard black and white.
One of the images edited to be standard black and white.
The photo above traced with watercolor.
The photo above traced with watercolor.
Photo Album
Risograph Prints
Back to Top