Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ajo Spirits and Joshua Tree

These are the only two paintings I have ever had printed (other than on my Epson printer, assisted by my computer). Ajo Spirits (on the left) were photolithographs, the other (Joshua Tree, on the right) were made as Giclees ("zhee-CLAY"), which are just fancy inkjet printer reproductions.

There are two reasons why I've decided not to pursue additional printing at this time: (1) it's an expensive investment; (2) the repros never look as good as the originals, especially when they're side by side.

Why is that, you may be asking yourself? Well, it's because I normally paint with glazes, a technique developed by the Old Masters. Glazes are transparent layers that, when applied numerous times, give the painting a stained-glass look because light penetrates the layers, reflects off of the canvas or panel and back towards the viewer -- just as light penetrates stained glass and appears rich and deeply-colored.

At this time, there are no printers that can produce the look of glazes. In fact, paintings that reproduce the best are those that feature an opaque paint film (so the light doesn't penetrate), no three-dimensional brush strokes or texture, and a matt finish (a glossy finish enhances glazes). I have created paintings that meet those criteria, but frankly, I would rather become known for making classical-looking works in the tradition of the Old Masters, although the paintings will still have a contemporary twist to them.

Without intending to, I've become a "purist" when it comes to my work. No prints. Although my paintings do look fine when reproduced, they lack much of the intrinsic beauty that the originals have. It's possible I'll need to make some tough choices in the days ahead, but for now, I'll need to keep painting and excuse myself from the print market.

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