The Art of Turning Artwork into Reproductions
Women since the days of “Rosie the Riveter” have struggled to hold their place in the work force. It’s not surprising that today’s women are finding their independence through their entrepreneurial skills; utilizing artistic and creative skills to accomplish our goals. Once I married Bernard and became Arlene Clendenin, an entire new world opened to me as I fell in love with the man and his art.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to make a business out of my husband, Bernard Clendenin’s, fine art work. When I first approached the subject with him in the 80’s and again in the 90’s his answer was always the same; we couldn’t do it because it would take a four color press to create lithographs and that was simply cost prohibitive.
Then, in 2006 I found a small ad in “The Artist’s Magazine” talking about note cards and prints. Color Simulation Services, Inc. was offering free samples of both note cards and giclee prints. I contacted CSS, Inc . to request the samples. Once I received them I was certain the time was right for us to pursue my dream of making and selling prints of Bernard’s beautiful paintings. Bernard himself had to confess the samples were gorgeous and he was convinced that what I had been talking about for years could be done utilizing current technology rather than the lithograph process he was familiar with. Randy Orgeron , my Color Simulation Service contact, from that moment on has been educating me on the process of making Giclee Prints.
Can you tell our readers, why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
Because we are first & foremost artists, who have skill, expertise & training in digital graphic technology, which means that we understand the process that our clients used to create their works, which allows us to do the computer work that will honor that process & get a color match of their original.
As an artist yourself, you have told me on several occasions that Bernard’s work is truly extraordinary. Can you elaborate on that and help me to see what the artist sees?
Bernard had the ability to know when to stop … to know when a painting was finished. Many artists do not have the ability to put the brush down once the goal of the composition is accomplished. They go past that point, and then the piece becomes overworked and labored looking. Perhaps it is because they lack the vision to see the work, in its finality, in their mind …or perhaps they are not completely planned out prior to beginning the painting.
I believe that Bernard was possessed of the talent that Mozart had, in that putting his compositional idea onto canvas was simply a matter of bringing into physical manifestation his already completely formed mental image … much in the same way that Mozart always had the composition complete in his mind, so writing the music down on paper was merely dictation. Bernard’s compositions contain just the right number of brush strokes to convey the intended image … no more, no less. Mozart’s musical compositions—in the same way—contained just the exact, precise number of notes. In this way, Bernard was an artistic master.
As you know, Bernard painted both in Oils and in Watercolors. Actually, all of Bernard’s oil paintings were created prior to us getting together. He pretty much had to change to a different medium because he worked from home and he was sensitive to the fact that with my allergies, I would not be comfortable around the chemicals in the oil paint. Some early examples of portraits in oil are “Woman Looking Right” and “Woman Looking Left” shown below.
(Click the pics to enlarge)
During the late 80’s and early 90’s Bernard painted two portraits in watercolor one is a portrait of me and the other is a portrait of our friend Debbie. There is a distinct difference in the style in both portraits shown below. But it’s equally interesting to look at the change in Bernard’s style going from oil to watercolor.
What kind of technical issues would Bernard have had to deal with in changing from oil to water color paint?
This would not have been an easy task, as the two mediums could not be any more disparate. Although both possess their distinctive challenges, oils are easier to control and to rework if the intended result is not achieved when first applied, because they can take days to dry, whereas watercolors dry within seconds. Because of the fluidity of watercolor, controlling it—getting it to stay where you place it … or knowing just how far it is going to spread once it comes into contact with the paper—is quite a technique to master. I have seen many a muddy watercolor, as too much layering was attempted … or too much pigment was put down. I have heard it said by watercolor artists that—in the beginning—much of their work ends up in the trash, due to this notion of controlling the pigment tinted water. Bernard certainly did master the technique, as his watercolors do not appear muddy, nor are they over saturated with pigment.
One thing I have observed over many years is that some creative individuals, including Bernard have a difficult time with the business side of art. And generally speaking those of us who have a fairly good handle on business issues are not very adept on the creative side of things. I think it has something to do with the right brain vs left brain theory. You taught me many things about the business of Art.
You seem to balance both aspects, the creative and the business side of art. How do you do that?
Yes, it is so true, Arlene: That has been my observation over the years. We have clients who have an indisputable talent for painting, but who are not at all adept at then getting their work out before a broader public, in the hopes of producing sales and garnering commissions. Because I was a business person first, who came upon the digital arts in quite a roundabout way, my first inclination is to always be thinking beyond the current work in house, to the future work that needs to come in, and developing ways to lure it in.
Bernard was fortunate to have a wife / agent, who was willing to drudge through all of the marketing muck while he took care of creating the art. You have always been willing to do those things that get the word out: newsletters, E-Mail blitzes, blogs, Facebook presence, museum exhibits, art fairs, etc…
The most important thing is to stay present in the minds of current and future clients and buyers. I make it a habit to post to our website and to our Facebook pages every day, just to let people know that we are a going concern. You never know when the right pair of eyes will happen to be looking on any given day … eyes that have been searching for a particular service that we offer or looking for a particular piece of art that you might be selling.
How did you decide to get into your line of work?
About 10 years ago, a friend & business associate, who is also an artist, asked me (since I had computer expertise) if I could make some prints of his artwork. In attempting to honor that request for him, I became immersed in the phenomenal possibilities of producing accurate color reproductions of artwork. This led–of course–to acquiring all of the toys that go along with this type of endeavor: cameras, scanners, printers, etc… As my friend began to put the work that I had done for him out before a broader public, I began to get requests from other artists. Well, one thing led to another..
What important information should buyers have thought through before buying a Giclee Print?
Art reproduction is not just a matter of hitting print. We produce fine art reproduction gilcee prints that come with certificates of authenticity, on medias that are archival, using inks that are colorfast for 200 years. Our giclee prints are appropriate for serious collectors, exhibition venues, galleries, & museum gift shops and are also equally appropriate for the living room walls of family, friends & admirers.
What about the ink is so significant?
Archival Pigment Inks. The reason we use pigment inks is for their archival print life and color stability. The dye inks used in most early inkjet printers exhibited signs of fading or shifts in color after a short period of time (as quickly as days, in some cases). As a result, the graphic art and fine art markets turned to pigment inks. Pigment inks are much more stable and can last more than 200 years under normal, indoor, environmental conditions.
You have worked on many of Bernard’s paintings. In some cases we made note cards and for some paintings we created Giclee Prints. Of the many pieces we have reproduced either as note cards or as Giclee Prints, do you have a favorite?
I have to say that—while with Bernard’s work, it was always the one that I was currently working on that was my favorite—the ballet series is the group that I feel the fondest towards. It was the first three works that you submitted to us (all those many years ago). Upon receipt, we knew that our art client roster had just increased its “fine art” factor by a-hundred fold, as these works are on par with Degas.
Randy, you have been so helpful, as you always are, but if I may I have one last question. In terms of the business of art, what are your thoughts on social media to promote specifically Bernard Clendenin and his work?
Plain and simple? You can’t conduct business of any kind without having a social media presence. The art business is no exception. You have to go where the people are, and the people are on social media platforms.
Thank you so much for your friendship and continued support of Bernard’s Fine Art Work. I expect we will be doing business together for many years to come.