Capturing Old Florida “I am passionate about the art of creating hand-painted, black and white photography. I love to express myself by adding color, that may not be true to the original scene, yet evokes a particular fleeting moment that I felt at the time. I delight in the fact that I am able to combine a technique that was once popular, but is now nearly forgotten. I am honored that I have had the opportunity to document Florida’s scenic landscapes and historical architectural icons for generations to come. – Niki Butcher
Niki’s style of hand-painting black and white photography was influenced by the old fashioned post card artists, who, in an effort to add more realism to monochrome images, added hand-coloring. She feels that this method evokes the soft and somewhat surreal feeling that she often experiences while traveling around the state. In 1986, Clyde’s and Niki’s son, Ted, was killed by a drunk driver. It was a traumatic event for the entire family. While Clyde went out into the wilderness to renew himself, Niki escaped into her hand-painted black and white imagery. In 1992, Clyde and Niki purchased 13 acres located along Tamiami Trail in the Big Cypress National Preserve to build a gallery and home. The gallery exhibits a large display of both Clyde and Niki’s work. Their daughter, Jackie, joined their business in 2000 and opened the Venice Gallery & Studio, where both Clyde and Niki’s work can be viewed, and where the 2000 square foot darkroom is located. In 2001, Jackie’s husband Neal joined the business and became their darkroom technician. Niki had been photographing using a Pentex 6x7 camera with black and white film. She became intrigued by the digital age of cameras and the use of Photoshop. Her first digital camera was only 5 megapixels, not good enough for her artwork. However, as digital cameras improved, Niki began using them to capture her images. She now photographs with a Canon EOS Rebel. She joined the computer revolution in 2006 when she began hand-painting and creating photomontages using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. The images are printed on Harman Hahnemuhle paper using an Epson Stylus 4800 printer. The print is mounted and matted to current museum-quality, archival standards.