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Before color photography, photographers would tint sepia or black and white photos to make them more realistic. Then when color photography came the experimentation continued. Prior to the age of computers and digital imaging there was the hand painting of color photographs. These mixed media works would sometimes incorporate collage and other techniques. In the early 70’s, Mario Castillo's interest in Surrealism prompted him to take his own color photographs and alter them considerably by using oil paints over them. Because there was more actual painting on these photos than tinting, Castillo called them photo-paintings.

Now with the use of digital imaging anyone can achieve the same effects with computers. Artists have become fascinated with the idea of producing giclees or high quality archival prints of their work with large-format printers. They have taken these prints and worked over them with paint to enhance the image. These embellished giclees can be seen as variations on a theme. Castillo has employed this technique also, but sometimes he paints so much over the original print that it gets transformed into a totally new work. Whenever he does this, he goes beyond the “embellishing” process and into the realm of what he calls “Paintography”. This interdisciplinary technique fuses painting and photography into one. It is the result of a six step process that starts out with an original work of art, usually a painting. Regardless of the starting medium, the end result is a mixed media work which does not look anything like the original. The procedure is outlined below:

1. Original Painting (OP) is created 2. OP is photographed 3. Photograph of OP is scanned to turn it into Digital File (DF) which serves as “under-painting #1” 4. DF is altered through a program such as Painter or Photoshop into a Digital Image (DI) 5. An archival print of new DI is done on canvas. 6. Print of DI becomes “under-painting #2” and then is painted over to change and alter it so as to transform it into a new original painting.

So in essence, we start out with a finished artwork (a painting or a photograph) which is carried over into digital imaging and then finalized as a painted work. At times this finished work is recycled again to produce another finished work.

Below is a paragraph abstracted from my Sabbatical report (2004):

The digital works selected by the MFACM staff will be shown as they are or as paintographs. During my sabbatical I developed the first work which comes under the new term I coined as Paintography. Since I have been doing embellished prints for over 20 years, I have come to realize that some of these works become a mixed media original that is neither a print nor a painting, but instead, a new original work which is an interdisciplinary fusion of both art forms. To classify these works as embellished prints is to discredit their true originality. Thus a new term was born … “Paintography”. In summary, the painter becomes a photographer and then the photograph becomes a painting.

To see a paintograph of Frida Kahlo done over Mario Castillo’s mural, “The Ancient Memories of Mayahuel’s People Still Breathe” exhibited at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago, Illinois in the Mexicanidad exhibition, please follow link below:

Frida over Mexican mural