tomorrow i'll be moving to miami, graffiti, apartment building, Berlin, balcony, wood transfer
This blog post was originally written for patrons and published on the Patreon platform on October 13. It has been slightly edited and some more personal photos have been swapped out.
street art photography transferred to wood by Luci Westphal
Urban art photos transferred to reclaimed fence wood at the St. Pete Art Battle in October 2023.

Lately, most of my creative work has revolved around photo wood transfers. 

You may recall from earlier posts that I just discovered that method of transferring my photos “into” wood in spring. I first shared that kind of work during the 2023 Artist Enclave Studio Tour in March. The joy of creating hands-on and in finding a process that seemed suitable and worthy of my street art photography has been very fulfilling in the creative process. 

Then in May I had my first solo exhibit “Urban Wood” which focused heavily on wood transfers (but also included nature photography mounted on wood). Since then I have uploaded a few of the pieces to my online store and created a “First Look” album on my website. 

Last month, I went back deep into creating new work and creating new versions of pieces that sold during the Urban Wood exhibit and from my online store. Even if based on the same photo, each piece is unique due to the wood grain, shape, size of the reclaimed wood –  and of course because of the unpredictable nature of the process.

I thought it would be interesting to you to see the process of how I create these pieces.  

After Scott gives me the cut and sanded reclaimed wood (or I unpack the prefab wood panels), the first step is applying 3 layers of gesso over the course of 24 hours or so. 

applying gesso to reclaimed fence wood

The next step is getting mirrored versions of the photos printed and then a coat of acrylic medium (paint without pigment) painted on the wood. Then immediately, I lay the image on the wood upside down with some pressure. 

Here are a few of the reclaimed fence wood planks and prefab panels now with the print-out attached. Next they rest / cure for 24 hours. 

paper on wood

24 hours later, I moisten the paper and slowly, gently rub off the paper.

Lafayette restaurant bar sign, Cuba, wood transfer, revealing image, rubbing off paper

Usually this happens in several sessions over the course of a day or two. These pieces have gone through the first round of removing the paper. 

image wood transfer, step by step, reveal image, remove paper

And after all the paper has been “painstakingly” rubbed off, I cover each piece in 2 – 3 coats of varnish (including the sides and backs of the reclaimed wood).

try try try, urban exploration, Gowanus, Brooklyn, wood transfer

During this productive phase, I also got on my bike and cruised around St. Pete for a few photos I’ve been wanting to take for a long time – and turn into transfers. 

Here’s the original of the Sandman Motel sign: 

Sandman Motel, St. Petersburg, Florida, photo by Luci Westphal

And here is the finished wood transfer (which sold already – but I’ll be making at least two more, so I can have one): 

Sandman Motel vacancy vintage neon sign, St. Petersburg, Florida, wood transfer

A photo I’ve been meaning to take for a very long time – and a location I had a hard time finding again. When I did, it was even more photogenic than I remembered – with the pink scooter and the walker and the colors. This is the wood transfer of “Paradise”: 

Paradise, housing, apartment door, pink kids scooter, walk, grey wall, wood transfer, St. Pete

Finally went back to get a straight-on photo of the side wall of Haslam’s Book Store, which is a perfect fit for the reclaimed fence wood at 16.5 inches. I LOVE how the wood grain shows through in the sky and wall. 

Haslam's Book Store, St. Pete, Florida, wood transfer

By the way, the photos of these transfers really don’t do them justice. 

And then last Saturday, I participated as a vendor at the St. Pete Art Battle and Vendor Market. Art Battle means that several spray-paint mural / street artists create at the same time while an audience watches and eventually declare a “best of show” winner. 

It seemed a natural place for me to set up a booth. Here’s a back view of my booth facing the art battle, featuring one of my “vast vinyl prints” of a street art scene in Berlin. And you can see Scott getting ready to put up another booth wall. 

setting up booth at art fair, street art photography, wood transfer, urbex

View of the booth after it’s all set up with title and location cards for each piece – and some art battling going on in the background. 

Luci Westphal booth at St. Pete Art Battle and Market, wood transfer, street art, urban art, urbex, photography

The mural on the left won the 2nd Annual St. Pete Street Art Battle:

St. Pete Art Battle 2023 winner, mural, street art, urban art, public art

A huge thank you to Scott and Sara Black for helping me with the market that day – and to everyone who came by to check out my work, have a chat, and even purchase a piece of my work. 

I’ll aim to have the remaining pieces uploaded to my online shop by the end of next week. 

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