East Texas Family Photo Art

Setting up my workspace.

Almost one month into 2022, I am finally able to get back in my studio and make fresh monotype prints. Because this process must be completed in one go, it needs more dedicated time than other types of art. And time is something that has been in short supply!

For the my first print of 2022, I chose a vintage photo of my great-grandparents in the 1920s or 30s. Doing the math now, I realize this would make it close to 100 years ago. That seems hard to believe. While Beatrice died at 68 in 1978, Charlie, aka Grandy, lived into his nineties – almost to the year 2000! So, I knew him quite well.

What I like about this photo – other than the people in it – is how stylish she looks. I was too young to have memories of Beatrice before she passed, but I have always been told about her fashion sense and desire to keep current on trends. I see her angular 1920s bob and her shoes and think this was a person who had a sensibility beyond her rural environment.

Not sure if Grandy shared her fashion sense, but I remember that he didn’t like being gifted jogging suits at Christmas. So, maybe.

Dunbar Marching Band, 1965

This is another large piece in progress, inspired by a photo from The History Center, of Lufkin Dunbar High School’s marching band performing at a Christmas parade in 1965. So much to like about this photo that I wanted to capture – the uniforms, the mod-looking building behind the crowd. and while it is hard to see here, the Christmas decorations in the background.

This photo was taken in 1965, when Lufkin was still a segregated school district, and Black students attended Lufkin Dunbar High School. The school, named for *poet and writer Paul Laurence Dunbar, was known for excellence in academics, athletics and leadership.

After integration, Dunbar became the district’s middle school, and it now serves as both Dunbar Primary and the Lufkin ISD education center, as well as hosting the Dunbar Hall of Honor.

As with so many other subjects I have researched, this photo was a valuable if much, much belated opportunity to learn more about Dunbar High School and its legacy.

*Note: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1899 poem Sympathy inspired the title of Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings!

NFT Art Experiment

“Sparkle Lasso,” NFT Digital Photo Collage by Stephanie Khattak.
“Butterfly Girl,” NFT Digital Photo Collage by Stephanie Khattak.
“Yellow and Orange,” NFT Digital Photo Collage by Stephanie Khattak.

As an artist, I think it is important to try new things and see where my art can go to reach more audiences and stretch myself in both the types of art I create, and the technical and business tasks involved in entering a new market. So, I am offering a few pieces of digital NFT art on Opensea.io!

It was interesting to create for this new platform. I wanted to keep to my current style and perspective, and at the same time I didn’t want to simply scan in images of my current work. (While I am proud of all of my work, it looks best IRL!) So, I combined old found and family photos with digitized vintage decorative elements found in the public domain. Then, I used the Procreate app on the iPad to add digital hand-painted touches. I like how it turned out! I spent about a half-day setting up the platform and cryptocurrency wallet necessary to host the work and run the transactions, and then I was set for my first auction, which can be found here.

Right now, the current NFT art market leans toward styles that are quite different than mine, and more established artists with bigger followings are most successful. I do think there’s a place for artists like me in the NFT art world, but I am not sure that now is the time. Regardless, I find it beneficial to adapt to and test new ideas and seek out opportunities when they appear. This will probably be my only NFT art collection for a while, as I feel that personally, my creative opportunities are stronger elsewhere right now. But like everything else, I do suspect that this technology will eventually become more mainstream, and that by familiarizing myself with it now, I can more easily jump back in if I want to.

I do get a kick out of the idea that my family’s photos are out there on platforms that they could never even dream of being on. Some of the photos I have are from the early 1900s! Can you imagine trying to explain NFTs to them? It’s hard enough for me to understand.

The auction ends soon, but I did enjoy creating this new style of work, and you’ll probably see more of it. If it speaks to you, please get in touch about prints or commissions. Even if a piece sells in auction, I retain the copyright, so these are considered available works!

The Anniversary

Detail Shot, “The Anniversary” by Stephanie Khattak.
“The Anniversary” by Stephanie Khattak.

My parents had the most seventies wedding ever. White shoes on the men, sherbet-toned bridesmaid dresses for the ladies, complete with floppy hats and flower baskets instead of bouquets. But it worked for this East Texas wedding portrait in 1973 and in some festival/Midsommar aesthetic circles it still works today. They got married roughly a month after my mom graduated high school, which was common for the time. I came along three years later. They’re still together, their health has been good. They lead quiet lives in a nice home with a bunch of cats and a dog so spoiled we’ve taken to calling him Little Lord Poncho. It hasn’t been perfect because what is? But they got their happily ever after.

Large Art Prints

Large Art Prints in Progress, Stephanie Khattak.

I’ve started working on larger monotype prints, which is fun. It takes a little bit of problem solving, since I don’t have a large format printer and wouldn’t want to spend money to have something printed professionally that’s just going to be a reference piece. So, in order to get the photo large enough, I open Adobe Acrobat and print as a poster, which enlarges across multiple sheets of paper. I put them together sort of like a puzzle under my large plate (or plates if the finished product will be larger than 16X20.) It is a little extra work, but I love how these look at a larger scale when I can bring out more of the entire scene.

Art Store (Re)Opens in June!

I’ve held off on reopening my art store because it has been a challenge to reproduce my prints in a variety of sizes. Too small and the designs get too busy, too large and they lose too much detail and seem unfinished. Like Goldilocks, I have been looking for “just right” sizes and materials. And, I’ve recently found the perfect vendors to produce them!

In June, I’ll offer a few sets of mini reproductions and some in larger sizes. Each will be hand-embellished for a unique piece. They’ll be a limited edition and my next store update will be in the fall, so if there’s something you’re interested in, act quickly! I will announce availability on my newsletter first, so please subscribe if you haven’t already!

As always, thank you for your support and encouragement. It’s a pleasure to create art for you.