Portraits on Silk

“Beatrice,” acrylic and pigment on silk over vintage photo, by Stephanie Khattak.

This is my great-grandmother on my mom’s paternal side. She passed in February 1978, before I was two years old, so she knew me, but I didn’t really know her. My mom says that they would bring her to my grandparents’ house to spend time with me, and that she really enjoyed that. I like to believe that I enjoyed our short time together, too.

East Texas Lumbermen

Painted acrylic gel plate. Stephanie Khattak.
Detail shot, work in progress. Southern Pines Lumberman Team, 1930s. Acrylic monoprint, Stephanie Khattak.
Desktop view, work in progress. Southern Pines Lumberman Team, 1930s. Acrylic monoprint, Stephanie Khattak.

This work in progress is of a logging team, part of the Southern Pines Lumber Co. in the 1930s. The image was pulled from the Diboll History Center, Durham family photo collection. My great-great uncle (my father’s great-uncle) worked on this team and is in this photo, something I didn’t learn until I started to research the image.

This was not a branch of the family tree that I was close to, so learning more about them, and their place in history, has been interesting and a nice surprise.

An image this large and detailed required not only my 16X20 plate (aka Big Betsy), but also a bit of my 8X10 plate to extend the edges. This is the largest and most difficult piece I have attempted in terms of balancing aesthetics, details and expediency so that I can pull the print before the paint dries. It is pretty abstract (keeping with my artistic style) but I wanted to make sure that the horses mostly looked like horses and that the large trees came through.

One reason the source image is so striking is the size of the cut trees against the horses and workmen. When I post the final, I will link to it so you can see for yourself. It’s pretty cool, and there are many other photos in the collection that I want to work from.