Pulling back the curtain
I'd like to share with you a behind-the-scenes look at my work on a recent commission. This was for a long-time client who wanted a gift for his daughter. The families both live in St. Pete and love the area, so a painting of the Vinoy Hotel was a natural choice.
This hotel is the crown jewel of St. Pete, Florida and a beloved landmark for residents and visitors. It's imposing size, expansive wings , distinctive candy pink color, and fanciful tower make it a beautiful backdrop to the nearby boat basin filled with sailboats, catamarans, and power boats.
It all starts with the photos
To begin, I took many photos of the scene to give me options for composition. Here's how I started with those photos and ended with the completed commission:
For me a painting is finished when it achieves my original vision and nothing detracts from the whole. I usually give myself some time to live with the painting to make sure nothing else catches my eye. Then I varnish the the canvas and deliver it to my client.
I'm happy to report that the daughter was delighted with her gift, and it looks perfect in the living room of her new home.
On to the next painting!
It was love at first sight
Have you ever fallen in love with a piece of artwork at a gallery or art show and then had sticker shock when you looked at the price tag? It can be disconcerting to compare the cost of original art to the cost of prints—whether high-quality limited edition prints or mass-produced ones. How could an original painting be worth the considerably higher cost?
Good question! Let me explain.
Why original art is worth more than a print
1. ONE OF A KIND
This is an object made by the hand of the artist and it is unique. No one else will have this artwork. You will not see it in stores, in galleries, or at your friends' homes.
2. CONNECTION & STORY
You are part of the artistic process; your appreciation and purchase of an original work continues the journey that began with the first inkling of an idea. You have the opportunity, through talking with the artist or gallerist, to better understand the artist's techniques and inspiration. Many artists love to share their creative journey with their clients through newsletters, talks, shows, etc., and will stay in touch with those who purchase original work. (I do!) Plus your experience about how you discovered the artist and what you learned of their work is a story that you will naturally share with friends as they view your original painting.
In my experience, a print of a painting never matches the colors of the original. Even with expert printers, I have found there is always a color compromise. Some colors are close, but others miss the mark considerably, despite multiple corrections. Eventually I gave up offering prints of my work.
To prove my point about the difficulty of color matching, above is a screen shot of different prints of a painting by Monet available online. The values and the colors of blues and greens considerably. Look at the reflected yellow at the waist of the dress in the left print which is different in the others. Which print is closest to the original? Who knows?
Original art allows you to see details in the brushwork and subtleties in color that are just not visible on a print. These are the nuances that the artist consciously manipulated in order to create feel of the painting. The original gives you the full visual experience and is the same object that the artist labored over for many hours and finally signed with satisfaction.
5. MILES ON THE BRUSH
One of the reasons that an original oil painting is much richer than a print is because it expresses the culmination of the artist's creative voyage and discoveries to that point. All the trial and error over years of honing their craft result in a sophisticated mix of materials, technique, and vision that is much more evident in the original than in the print.
6. SUPPORT THE ARTS
I think one of the most important reasons to buy original art is that you are supporting the arts in your community and in the world. The richness of our artistic expression as a culture depends on artists being able to support themselves as they create original artwork. Artists need you to see and interact, and yes, buy their work so that they can continue to produce fabulous art.
Notice that I haven't said anything about art appreciating in value. While your wonderful original painting should be worth more over the years as the artist's prices increase, I don't suggest you buy art with an eye to selling it. I think you should buy what you love and plan to let it enrich your life for years to come.
But, it might make sense if...
I will agree that there are a few times when it does makes sense to buy a print:
Your turn: What do you think about when you buy artwork? How does price affect what you buy?