About my Digital Paintings and Giclée Prints
Some of my newest pieces have been created with the help of a computer, but let's be clear they are NOT computer generated! A computer is a machine. It generates nothing unless a human being tells it what to do and how to do it. I'd like to walk you through my process for creating a digital work of art, so that you'll be comfortable knowing that the piece you are buying is as much an "original" as a watercolor, lithograph, etching, oil painting or any other two-dimensional work of art.
When I begin a new piece, I start with an IDEA. Just as when I begin a watercolor, the first part of the process involves observation and thinking, and then I do rough sketches. These may be done traditionally in my sketchbook using a pencil or pen, especially if I'm not in my studio when inspiration strikes. More often, they are done directly on the computer, but instead of drawing on paper with a pencil, I use a stylus pen to draw on a digitizing tablet; the drawing appears on my computer screen as I draw, just as it would if I were working on paper. I can use my stylus pen to erase, just as I would on paper, and I do, drawing and erasing, refining the image until I get what I want.
Once I have a sketch I like, I develop the idea further. I may "paint" with color, layering the paint just as I would if I were glazing layers of paint in watercolor or acrylic, making some layers more opaque, and some thinner and more transparent. I experiment with color values and intensities, adjusting as I work. If I'm working on a collage piece, I combine elements by scanning some of my hand-made papers, or watercolor passages I've painted with a particular granulation I like, or pieces of photographs, or actual objects like twigs, leaves, or pieces of fabric. I can "cut" shapes to my liking, and rearrange them on the screen, just as I would if I were working with collage elements the traditional way. When I have the image the way I want it, I save it as a digital file. Then I'm ready to have it made into a form that I can frame and display - the giclée print.
Why make a print? For the same reason the lithographer does or the etcher does. An artist who makes lithographic prints doesn't sell or display the piece of limestone on which his print is originally drawn. The etcher doesn't sell or display the copper plate on which her image appears. In both cases, the artist makes prints from either the metal plate or the lithographic stone by running them through a printing pressa machineand making a print on paper. Only one print (a monoprint) may be made, or an edition of prints together with artist's proofs may be made. Sometimes the artist prints his own images, and sometimes she has them printed by an assistant, or a company that specializes in printmaking. Editions are signed and numbered, monoprints are simply signed, and when the edition is completed, the stone is ground down or the etching plate given an acid bath that removes the image forever so no more prints can be made. Each of the resulting prints is considered an original work of art, even though a machine (printing press) was used to create the final product (the print).
In the case of digital art, the artist likewise does not sell the computer monitor on which the image appears, or the hard drive on which the digital image is stored. Because this is such a new medium, galleries are experimenting with how to display these digital works of art. Some "brick and mortar" galleries set up many monitors to show the works on a slide-show basis, and there are "virtual" galleries on the internet that show work only online. More commonly, though, artists working digitally make prints of their images and display them in the traditional way - framed and hung on a gallery wall.
When I produce my digital art, I may print only one copy, or I may print a small edition (50 or fewer prints). In either case, once the edition (or the one-of-a-kind original print) is completed, the digital file goes into archive status for record-keeping purposes only, and no further prints are made. That, together with the Certificate of Authenticity, is your assurance that you are getting an original work of art. When I offer a COPY of an existing work, it will be labeled as a reproduction rather than as a digital giclée painting.
is a Giclée Print?
Giclée is a French word loosely meaning sprayed. It has become the accepted term for the type of print that is being produced on state-of-the-art inkjet printers, which create the image by depositing millions of infinitesimally small droplets of ink on a substrate of paper, canvas, film, etc. The resulting print is nearly continuous in tone, with individual droplets of ink only barely visible even with a magnifying glass. The best giclée prints are being printed using lightfast water-based pigmented inks (rather than the non-lightfast dye-based ones used in inexpensive desktop inkjet printers). They are also printed on archival substrates, and are generally given an additional "print-seal" coating to help protect them from dust and moisture. Like any other work on paper, giclée prints should be framed under glass or sheet acrylic using archival mats and backing boards, and should not be hung where they will be exposed to strong light or direct sunlight. Your framer can also use UV (ultra-violet) filtering glass or sheet plastic to provide additional protection.
Reputable giclée printmakers are continually subjecting specific substrate/ink combinations to rigorous tests for longevity by Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. and other indepent testing laboratories. The printers I use, with the specific ink/paper combination I use, guarantees you a print that will last approximately 80-120 years (depending on substrate), assuming archival framing, and optimal display conditions.
BUYER BEWARE and AND BE INFORMED ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE PURCHASING
Most fine art print editions (lithographs, serigraphs, etchings,etc. and genuine digital paintings and prints) are usually limited to 100 prints or less, and come with a Certificate of Authenticity from the printer and/or artist that lists the print title, how many total prints are in the edition, which number the particular print you have is (expressed as a fraction: 1/50, meaning your print is number one of a total of fifty), and how many artist's proofs there are (typically these will be no more than 10% of the total edition).
Authentic print editions or one-of-a-kind prints (monoprints) are never copies of an existing artwork. They are created as original works from the artist concept to the finished print. An exact copy of an existing work of art that is reproduced in large quantities (sometimes in the thousands or even without limit) is a REPRODUCTION. It is NOT a fine art print. Such reproductions should never be numbered as original prints are, and they should be very low in cost compared to an original fine art print. Applying transparent gel (to simulate brushwork) or adding dots of real paint onto a reproduction does NOT make it any more valuable. It is still a reproduction. Many commercial galleries and artists do not distinguish between a reproduction and a fine art print, so it's up to you, the potential buyer, to ask if the work is a copy or reproduction of an existing work (giclée copies are commonly made from original oil paintings and printed on canvas, so it's sometimes hard to tell that it isn't an "original").
The computer has become just another tool for the artist, like a brush or a pen. Remember what makes art art is the artist's vision, passion, intellect and intent, not the medium or the tools used to create the final product. Digitally produced works don't replace traditional watercolors or oil paintings or photographs. They're just another medium in the ever expanding realm of art.You can feel comfortable purchasing my digital giclée prints. I take the same care in creating them as I do in creating works in any other medium I work with.