Me and Dog

Way back in the early 1970s, I visited a friend in Meols, on the Wirral Peninsula (near Liverpool). I’m allergic to a whole load of animals including dogs and cats, so can’t have any of my own but I’ve always gone sort of crazy-happy when I’ve found a friend with a dog or cat. My friend had this dog… and she took a photo of us together sitting on a bench overlooking the sea.  I can’t be with most animals for very long because otherwise I get ill, but I do love them! 🙂

Anyway, a few years ago, I coloured this photo. The long top I was wearing was in a crinkly sort of fabric called ‘crepe’ (not sure if it is still used?) It’s not the most comfortable fabric to wear but it looks good. And it was a two-tone pattern in black and either a deep red or rust, but by the time I did the photo I couldn’t remember the exact shade, so I just went with what looked right. I was far more likely in those days to wear red than rust.  If my fingertips hadn’t been buried in the dog’s fur, I think they would have been wearing deep red nail-varnish, as was usual for me in those days.

I remembered the colour of my bag (purse, if you’re American), and recalled the colour of the trousers and boots, so that was fine. My hair was a very dark brown but in sunshine it always shone with a touch of chestnut brown. Later I began dyeing my hair but after an allergic reaction to the dye, I stopped that and now just put up with the grey/brown mix that is my natural colour.

I didn’t remember the colour of the dog, but I knew it was something and white. I didn’t do the white part very well, but have left it as it is.

The bench was easy to do and I love colouring wooden items.

The low wall behind me, is of a type that I have seen many, many times so I knew the colour that would be. As for the pavement… I had to guess that, and decided to use the colour that some other seaside places used then.

I’ve another pic of me with a dog, for a future post. And there’ll also be a post with a cat. And there may even be one with a baby elephant…  Stay tuned!

My Uncle and Aunt

This is a photo of my uncle Morrie and aunt Sylvia. It’s a photo I’ve had for a long time but hadn’t thought to colour til recently.  I didn’t do very much restoration on it, though there’s certainly more that could be done.

I had to guess at the colours. I knew both of them, but they died many years ago and my memory of their tastes has pretty much gone. His trousers look pale as does his pullover, so I thought a beige or cream would be best. I don’t know if he’d have worn a tie of that colour but, remembering that many of his generation in that side of my family liked clothes to match, I went for a similar colour.

The boards (presumably on a pier) looked too well-kept to be old wood, so I’ve avoided the greening that I tend to use for wood in seaside photos.

I’m always critical of my colourings after I’ve done them, and I think I could have desaturated the shadows more than I did to give sharper contrast in the bright sunshine, and put some more tonality in his shoes, but oh well, it is what it is.


Curious little boy

I always wonder with these photos of small children, how long it takes to get them settled enough to take a photo. This one looks to me like he was perhaps in mid ‘flap’. (You know the way small children sort of flap about with their hands and partially jump without entirely leaving the surface they’re sitting on?) Then someone said “Look! Look at the birdie!” and he looked up wondering “What birdie?”

I love colouring photos of children. The expressions on their faces and their poses are priceless.

A couple of curious things about this child… one is how patchy his face is. I think he must have either flushed in the studio lighting, or maybe has some sort of skin or capillary condition?  The other is his shoes. I thought at first that they were odd ones, but now think that the inner side of the one in the foreground (his right shoe) is simply hiding the smooth, paler, leather part that can be seen in the other one.

I’ve done a small amount of (digital) restoration to remove the handwriting that was written on the image (probably in crayon or soft pencil). I can’t make out what has been written, possibly a name – it looks to me like a signature. The parent, maybe?

Unfortunately, I don’t know the date of the photo or who the child is or was, or its family. I’d take a guess at 1950s for the date. The shoes have thick crepe soles, the shorts look like they might have been made for him, the white top might also be home-made. What do you think?

Click the image a few times to see it larger, it will open in a new tab or window.

Where are we going?

To the seaside, of course!

The coloured version of this pic is the one I use for my Facebook Page header. You know about my Facebook Page, right? Oh, you don’t? Well, it’s called Val’s Vintage Potpourri and as well as showing my colouring work, it’s an excuse for me to share my other vintage interests which cover a very wide area and time period.   (This isn’t my personal Facebook page but what used to be known as a ‘fan page’.)

I don’t yet have many Likes on the page, nor many followers – ditto here on this blog and website – mostly because both are still so new, (and on Facebook also because they insist on payment for publicity and at the moment I’d rather avoid that route), but also because I’m the world’s worst at self-publicity. Really bad at it, I am. (What is it that talks back to front, is it a wookie? No? Probably not.)  And the annoying thing is that I do try. Not very hard, but I do try.

So I have a request… could you help? Indeed, would you help, please?

If you are on Facebook, please Like and Follow my page. And when you’ve done that, if you see any posts you enjoy, please share them with your friends there.

Here on my blog, there are sharing buttons beneath most of my posts, for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and for Pinterest. So you can share my posts to those sites, quite easily.  As well as that, if you have a blog here on, there is a reblog button which enables you to share with your own blog readers an excerpt (and usually one image) from my blog with an automatic link back to it. That would help me, too. Oh and there is also an Email button so you can email a post excerpt to a friend or relative (or yourself!) then they can click the link and come to the blog.

But it’s not just about publicity. Even aside from my need for a wider audience for my work, I love, just love, having people visit my blog and so far very few people know about it. So your visits, follows and comments are very welcome. I try only to follow blogs that I enjoy and don’t mind if you don’t follow me back as I’d far rather have a readership that truly enjoys my posts… but then, I know my content is rather specialist and not to everyone’s taste. And that leads me onto something else…

On my Facebook page, Val’s Vintage Potpourri, I share my vintage interests as well as my work and I’ve been posting to it all sorts of things from video footage of Edwardian people to music from my own youth. I don’t know how it will develop in the future, but I do know that what I’m putting into it and how I’m doing it feels very natural to me, while here in my blog, I often feel I’d like to post more than just my photocolouring work.  So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be expanding the content of this blog to include some of my other vintage interests. I’ll also be showing some work in progress, as well as some of my collecton of vintage photos and postcards that I haven’t coloured. Oh, and from time to time, I shall be posting ‘mystery’ photos that I’d like your input and help on… ideas, thoughts, knowledge.  You’ll still see my photocolouring and restorations but perhaps not in every post, or I might combine the two.

And… you never know… there might be some humour in it too! (Steady on, Val… don’t overdo it!)

I’d love to know your thoughts on some or all of this! Are you happy to help and share my posts? Are you on any of the sharing sites? Will you feel let down if I vary the content of this blog? Or would you prefer it? What are your specific vintage interests?  What are your thoughts on the before and after image at the top of this post? Or your thoughts on anything else in the post?

So, let’s see how it goes. In the meantime, here’s a video that I found on YouTube called ‘A Trip to the Seaside’.



Who did you say you are?


See this?

and this?

and this?

Believe it or not, I don’t always colour the photos and postcards I collect. These are the original colour that you see. Or rather, part of the colour you see, because they are a cool red on silver. It’s a very strange (and to me, special) type of surface and technique that has been used. It isn’t possible to properly photograph or scan these to show them as they really look, so I’ve done just a tiny amount of adjustment to a couple of them to define the highlights and shadows. One I’ve left as it is – no adjustment at all, just straight out of the scanner. That’s the first one.

Please click two or more times on each one (it’ll open in a new window or tab) to see it at full size and to see the texture of the paper used. It’s like fine sand. Because of the texture and because of the poster-like quality of the images, these are difficult types of images to colour so, should I ever decide to do so – they will in no way resemble any of my other work. And this is something to bear in mind if you have any photos on textured paper or ones that are so old that the detail has begun to fade: it’s not always possible to ‘rescue’ them. With these, though… they don’t need rescuing, they just need appreciating as they are.

I haven’t yet been able to find out much about their technique or origin, maybe someone else can help?

Now, this is a slightly different post in more ways than just the obvious break from my colouring content (which will be back in later posts, don’t worry).

I’ve been wandering around the blogosphere and discovering new blogs and old. Of the latter, some were – and are – very familiar to me. To those bloggers, I say “Hello! Nice to see you again!” To the bloggers who have only really discovered me through Colouring the Past, and to those who have been wondering “Where do I know that person from?” here’s the answer….

This is not my first blog. I had a long, long blogging break to try and get my health a bit more under control (and mostly failed, but I’m no longer as much of a wimp about it as I was before!) but before that I had several blogs. Most were to do with art, one was focussed on my very silly and whimsical sense of humour (that comes out at the most inopportune moments, usually. I’ve been trying to keep it under control in this blog and I can tell you it’s taking a lot of effort!) and the humour blog became quite popular. The blogs some of you may have been familiar with were called Absurd Old Bird and Arty Old Bird.  I also had a nature-photography blog called Val’s Nature.

While I’d already been doing it for a few years privately, my photocolouring work first surfaced in the blogosphere circa 2004 on Livejournal (and I’ve forgotten the name of the blog I had there at the time). My results were variable. Some were excellent and others… not so much. I remember one I did of my mother as a child and made such a mess of it that I ended up putting in a psychedelic background to try to rescue it!  Then I sort of ‘hid’ for a while feeling very embarrassed and vowed not to show any again (but secretly wanted to have a blog just for it – which is this though, wow, did it take me a long time to do it!).

Then when I got my first or second blog on this site, I did some freebies for a few fellow-bloggers, not just photocolouring work but also the semi-abstract watercolour/digital hybrid art I was doing at the time. You can find some of those  here  and here.  (The links in those old posts to my contact, and blog, pages don’t work anymore as I no longer have them. If you find a website with the same name, it’s not mine anymore.) I think the first blog (Saffron and Silk) may now be defunct, but the second is a lovely blog that’s worth a look for her current and past, posts. The blogger’s name is Barbara Rodgers, and her blog is called By The Sea. I hope she won’t mind me linking to my old work in her posts.

So… as you can see, I’ve been around for quite a while. I’ve made a lot of friends on this blogging journey. I hope you are – or will become – one of them.

While my website is certainly to showcase my photocolouring work, it is more than that… the blog is for me to make connections, to discover new and old blogs and bloggers, to tap back into that vein of creativity that I had missed so much while I was taking my long ‘break’.

Thanks for being here, you make it all worthwhile.

Oh and…

I’m Val Erde.



Grandmother and Grandchild in garden

Grandmother and grandchild in garden. Photocoloured by Val Erde.

Above, coloured version.

Below, original one.

Grandmother and grandchild in garden... monochrome image that goes with other photograph in post, the other is photocoloured by Val Erde.

When I bought this photo, the seller described it as ‘Mother and Daughter, Garden, 3 Adelaide Terrace, 1912’. I think, though, that they are a grandmother and granddaughter. I wonder where it was? I found one ‘Adelaide Terrace’ in the UK and one in Perth, Australia. Do you know of one?

It’s rare to see such an informally posed child in a photo of this date. The grandmother – I’ll call her that – is trying to keep a straight face for the camera, but is losing a battle of fighting off a smile; you can see it in her eyes.

I decided on a deep blue dress for the woman because of her brooch which looks to me like Wedgwood and, while many are other colours, the most common is a mid or powder blue with a white or ivory figure in the centre.

The child’s dress and headband-ribbon, I made a cream colour.

The surround – greenery, flowers, and the fence and wall behind, were quite interesting to do. It’s actually quite difficult sometimes to see what is there in a black and white or sepia photo. Even to someone without colour-blindness, reds and greens can look identical in monochrome. So a curled green leaf could be a red flower and what seems like buds could be nothing of the sort.

There are a lot of wild flowers in this photo, but as well as that, there are roses, poppies and some kind of tall daisy. I had the feeling that sticking to traditional red poppies was sensible, and the leaves that go with them are a sort of dusty sage green a lot of the time. The seed pods are sometimes indistinguishable from the unopened buds… it depends so much on direction and, of course, on light.

While there is good light and shadow in this image, it was not shot in bright sunlight so I had to be careful. Sunlight helps to define objects not only because of the strength of light but because of the strongly-cast shadow that occurs. With photos taken on overcast days or when the sun has temporarily gone behind a cloud, there’s more guesswork involved. So I decided that to make up for the inevitable errors in perception, I’d vary the shades of greenery in a fairly specific rather than random manner. So you’ll see what may be patches of the same plant in different shades than they should be.

The brickwork and fence were fun to do, though I had to take a break for a couple of days to be able to see the bits I’d missed and attend to those parts!

The daisies – for a change – gave me problems as I couldn’t decide what sort they were. Were they oxeye daisies? If so, they looked too tall. But then, perspective can seem very skewed and I had a feeling the garden was either on a slope or there were steps up to the woman and child. I looked at other daisies, but eventually decided on oxeye as they are close enough. And curiously, I think it works rather well as the child’s dress and headband add balance. Wouldn’t the photographer have wanted balance in the photo? I think so, and I try to achieve balance in my colourings.