Mom and Lilacs (Decoupage on Jute and Board)


IMG_5920 - Version 2

Here is a project that I made last year around Mother’s Day. (You can sign up here for our workshops to learn how to make your own.) The image began with a snapshot of my mother that I found in her photo album. She is standing in front of the lilac bush and the house where I grew up. This is one of my favorite pictures of her. The original photo was a black and white snapshot, only 2 inches by 3 inches.(See below). A few years ago, I used Painter to enlarge it and to create a digitally modified and colorized version, also posted here. To make this project, I made a print of the image and then decoupaged it onto a jute-covered masonite board. I covered it with gel medium and pressed it down to get the texture of the fabric to show through. Then painted the fabric with a muted lilac color. I wanted something with the faded look of a memory. It’s nice to have this keepsake to remember my mother, who loved lilacs in the spring.

Here is the original snapshot:

Copy of Mom and Lilacs

And here is the colorized version that I created:

Mom and Lilacs color 2



Dad in Foxhole (Posterized Photo)

Dad in Foxhole PSTR - Version 2

Last year, around Veteran’s Day, I came across a small snapshot (2 x 3 inches) in my mom’s photo album. She met my dad in 1943 in Pueblo, Colorado at a USO dance, and they got married a few months later, in April, shortly before he went overseas. While he was away, she kept a photo album with pictures of what was happening in Pueblo as well as the photos that he sent her, a number of them such as this one. I used Painter to colorize and posterize the image. I don’t know who took the original photo, but of course it was one of his army buddies. I don’t know as much as I would like to about what he did during the war.  Mostly I was told that he played the piano in the band (he did), which is what my folks told me when I asked. And I don’t know much about this photo. But on the back of the photo, in my father’s handwriting, it says “March 4, 44” and “Me in my foxhole. Thinking of you.” Maybe that’s all I need to know.

Still, I would like to learn more.  There are a lot of clues in my dad’s photos and my mother’s old album.  Anyway, here is the original snapshot:

Dad in Foxhole

Illustrated Family Tree (Sample)

Illustrated Family Tree (Sample)


I have been working on this project for the past few days, and finally finished last night.  This is a sample of an illustrated family tree that I made for Memory Imprints.  I used it for a workshop that we gave today, but it is also an example of the kind of photo display that we can create for clients.  This is collage and decoupage, mixed media on masonite board.


Two Fathers (Digital Woodcut from Rescued Negative)

Two Fathers (Digital Woodcut)

This image began with a negative that I found today when I was looking for a picture of my dad. It was a small negative and I could make out who it was (but not where) and I couldn’t tell the quality of the image. But I was curious, so I scanned it in to the computer, and then used Painter software to create a “positive” image from the negative. Yes, it was a photo of my dad holding me and my Uncle Bob holding my cousin. (I was raised in a big house that held two families: my parents, my aunt and uncle, my cousin, and my grandma.) I was excited because I didn’t recall seeing this photo before. But I could see why it hadn’t appeared in any albums, because the focus was too soft and the image was a little blurry. But I thought the image had potential, so I kept going. I still couldn’t figure out the location (and something seemed strange about the faces) so I decided to try flipping the image horizontally. And sure enough, that was the problem: I had scanned the image wrong way round, and once I got it right, the faces looked better and I recognized the house where I grew up! So then I had some fun adding color and posterizing and finally turned this into a woodcut. I thought this would be a good post for Father’s Day.

Here is what the negative looked like:


And here is what it looked like “flipped”:


And here is the photo “wrong way round”:


And here it is, flipped horizontally. This is the image that I worked from to make the digital woodcut, shown above:

Two_Fathers flipped

Family Photo Pendant

Family Photo Pendant on a Ribbon Necklace

This ribbon necklace features a pendant that I created, using a family photo, fabric, and ribbon.  The pendant is attached to the ribbon necklace with jump rings.  I made this necklace for myself, but it is an example of something that I can make for other people, using one of their favorite photos.  The pendant could be used on a chain necklace, a charm bracelet, or even a pin.

The photo is an image of my parents. It is very small version of an larger image:

Evening Out (Posterized Photo)

Evening Out (Posterized Photo)

This double portrait of my parents was originally a black-and-white group photo. And the photo of my mother was not usable because she was blinking (she hated flash cameras) and her eyes were partially closed.  So to get the image you see here, I cropped the original photo to get an image of just my parents, and then used some digital pastel to modify my mom’s eyes and eliminate the partial blink. Then I added the soft color and texture.

This is an example of how a photograph can be rescued and how it can be made into a keepsake.

Images by Randa Dubnick; all rights reserved.



Keepsake Box (“Dad with Boutonniere”)


Here is the keepsake box I have been working on.  The image is a digitally modified photo of my father as a young man.  To create this individual portrait, I cropped an image of my father out of a black-and-white group photo.  Then I modified the picture to create a new background, and added the texture and color.  I painted the wooden box and added the photographic image, allowing some of the wood grain to show through.

By Randa Dubnick   All rights reserved

Dad with Boutonniere (Digitally Modified Photo)

Dad with Boutonniere (Digitally Modified Photo) Revised

This image began with a photo that I came across last summer,  a picture of my dad as a young man. The original photograph was a group shot, obviously of my dad with his friends, but all unknown to me. The picture of my dad was pretty small, and it was badly scratched as well. But because I really loved that photo of my father, I decided to see if I could do something with it and so I got to work on the computer.  I cropped the picture of my dad out of the original black and white photo and cleaned up the scratches. Then I used some digital cut-and-paste to make a new background out of the existing trees and sky, and cover up what remained of the other fellows, mostly their jacket sleeves. Then I used digital pastel, color overlays, and special effects to create the colors and textures in this image. This was a lot of work, but it was worth it to have this portrait of my father as a dashing young man with a boutonniere.

By Randa Dubnick.  All rights reserved.  Originally posted to August 28, 2014

Kerry’s House

House as of August 15, Finished

This is a “house portrait” that I painted in 2005 for my friends. This was an attempt to recreate Kerry’s childhood home, to paint a house not as it looks now but as it looked during the 1950s and 1960s. Because my friends live in Colorado and I live two time zones away (north of Boston), this was long-distance art as well as time travel.

My friends sent me an early black and white photo to work from, probably taken in the 1920s or 1930s. But in that photo, part of the house was obscured by trees and another part of it was covered with vines.  So my friends took new photos of the house and emailed them so I could understand the structures that weren’t visible in the black and white photo. The house had been changed quite a bit since the 1960s and had been painted white, so this project required collaboration with my friends to get the colors right! They even sent me a bit of crushed brick in the mail, which made me laugh and laugh. They told me about the front porch swing and described the kinds of flowers in the yard. I shared images by email and we talked on the phone, and I posted images on my blog as the work progressed.

So we built this house together with art and memories. Due to the long-distance collaboration, it took me three months to finish the painting. But it was so much fun! Besides, you know what they say: The road to the house of a friend is never long.

Painting by Randa Dubnick; originally posted on Flickr and on August 15, 2005.  All rights reserved.

My Dad in London (Rescued Photo)

My Dad in London (Rescued Photo)

Several years ago, I was looking for pictures of my Dad in my Mom’s old album, where she kept photos he sent home from overseas during World War II.  I found a snapshot that I especially liked of my Dad in London, with St. Paul’s in the background.  But the photo needed a little help. So  I scanned the image into the computer.  The image was tilted, so I rotated and cropped it to straighten it out, and improve the composition.Then I adjusted the contrast for the sake of the patterns of dark and light.  Then I opened the image in Painter IX to do some clean-up.  I had to remove some black marks and scratches, so I used digital bleach, scratch remover, and even some cut and paste. It’s not really just about the photo, although I am glad that I could fix it up. It was nice to spend time on this today, and it made me smile to think of my Dad in London. He went to Picadilly Circus, and Saint Paul’s, just like I did.  He tried out the red phone booths and the pubs.  I wonder, did he ride the double-decker bus? I hope so, and I hope he liked it as much as I did!

Photo restoration by Randa Dubnick, from a snapshot taken by one of my father’s army buddies.  I originally posted this to Flickr and to on August 28, 2006. All rights reserved.

Chess Game

Chess Game

This is a painting of my dad playing chess with my cousin back in the fifties, when we were kids. I did this painting some years ago as a gift for my cousin. I used acrylics on paper, and worked from a black and white photograph that my cousin selected and sent to me. My Uncle Ike (Isaac Fitterman) who was a professional photographer, took the photo of his son and his brother-in-law, and in using my uncle’s composition, I felt like we were collaborating. The chess game took place in the house where I grew up, and it was fun to try to reproduce the patterns of the drapery, the crazy lamp, and the reflections in the window. Art can’t bring back the past, but sometimes it can let you do a little bit of time travel.

By Randa Dubnick.  All rights reserved.  Originally posted to Flickr and 6/19/2005