Painting for the People

Considering the amount of time required to produce a good picture, it can be tough to convince people to buy them for anything resembling a fair price. One does nobody any favors by working at a loss. Still, pictures are supposed to be seen, not stored away.

One solution to the problem is selling good quality reproductions. By that standard, this is a very good time to be alive. Today's technology makes it possible to sell prints at a reasonable cost, prints which are virtually indistinguishable from the original, unless you are interested in the surface quality of oil paint. Thus far, nobody's managed to reproduce that, although with 3D modeling programs, i wonder if that day is very far away.

Here is a painting I did last summer, of the Cincinnati Pops performing under a tent at the Green Acres Arts Center:

august concert.jpg

It was a major production, and a large one. I priced it accordingly, but there were no takers, until one viewer inquired about purchasing a print.

Suddenly the stratospheric price tag came within reach. Too much so, in fact; when it's all said and done, the only ones who will make money on the deal are the printmaker and the gallery. But that was a matter of poor judgment on my part. Had I asked enough to ensure a profit for me, the buyer would have given it. The giclee was printed onto canvas, stretched to the exact size of the original. All the buyer needs is a frame.

There are cheaper processes than the giclee shown here, and I wonder if these might hold a better promise. If a picture such as this one were reproduced onto canvas with a little of its contrast muted, perhaps highlights and darks could be directly painted onto the print surface in oil. This would add the desired surface quality to the picture, and make each reproduction an original of sorts.

It's not the same as the real thing, but it's close. Ultimately I'd like it both ways, with originals finding their way into the hands of people who would enjoy them and pay for them, and reproductions for those who can't see fit to plunk down thousands of dollars for a picture. The point isn't money, except for me. The point is adding something to the lives of other human beings. If giclees can make this possible, why not?