Wednesday, May 13, 2009

COLLECTORS' CORNER: Original, Print, Reproduction

Welcome to a weekly feature I'm calling "Collectors' Corner." On these blogs I want to gather information that will be interesting to people buying miniature art. This week, I'm going to define the art terms original, print, and reproduction in a brief and general way.

Next week I'll be reviewing The Top Five Ways to Buy Miniature Art. On May 27th, the topic will be Tips on Working with a Miniature Artist on a Commissioned Work. The final segment of my planned four-week seies will be Displaying, Trading and Giving ACEOs.

When you look at any piece of art you need to know how it's been produced. Although there are many ways to make a one-of-a-kind artwork, when you are buying something called an original, it should be a piece created directly on the surface you're buying (called the support) by the artist. So you are buying, for example, a painting done by the artist with brushes and paint.

An original will generally be priced considerably higher than a print or a reproduction. Although there will be only one original, the artist retains the right to reproduce their work and sell the reproductions. If the reproductions are popular, this can actually increase the value of the original.
Today artwork can easily be reproduced digitally, even at home using a good desktop printer. These reproductionsenable more people to enjoy owning and displaying art at reasonable prices.

Giclée (pronounced "zhee-clay"), is a name for a reproduction digital source, often a scan of a painting, using ink-jet printing. They are sometimes also referred to as "fine art prints."

This is where things get confusing, because although a digital reproduction of an original artwork printed on an ink-jet printer is called a "fine art print," there is a completely other type of artwork called a "print." These are pieces that are produced from an image created on one surface (called a matrix) specifically to be transferred to another surface (called a support), usually paper, to make the finished art piece. The surface on which the artist created the original work is generally never intended for public display or sale. It is necessary that the artist be directly involved in at least preparing the matrix for these prints.

Different types of prints are distinguished by the matrix, or the surface the art is created on. The nature of the matrix determines the means of image transfer. Each transfer is referred to as an impression.

A woodcut, for example, is made from an image carved on a block of wood. A linotype uses carved linoleum. With wood or linoleum, ink is applied to the matrix with a roller, then it is pressed onto the paper support to transfer the ink in the pattern of the carved image.

An etching used a metal sheet as the matrix. A lithograph is made using stone. A screen print uses fabric for the matrix.

A monotype refers to a one-of-a-kind print, often one in which the artist is applying ink to the matrix in a specific way for production of a single print, or one where the artist alters the matrix after the production of one print so no two will ever be alike.

An edition in terms of a print refers works printed from a particular plate, or original. Reproductions and prints are sometimes referred to as open editions, meaning there is no limit on the number that will be printed, and limited editions in which an original is retired after production of a pre-determined number of impressions or copies are made. These are often number as 25/50, meaning the 25th impression out of a total of 50 impressions made.

All these differences should be reflected in the prices charged for a type of artwork. Generally an original has the highest price, a limited-edition print will be priced higher than an open edition, and a print will be priced higher than a reproduction.

Buy what you feel comfortable with and enjoy your art work. If you love it, it's the perfect type of art for you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm the Curator of an Etsy Treasury

Just pulled together a collection of indulgent items priced under $10. It's posted in the Treasury section of Etsy. Please, go check it out. It's got some fantastic gift ideas, inexpensive enough that you don't need a reason to give.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What is Miniature Art? Vines

Originally uploaded by miniscapes
This is a painting of a vineyard done in a relatively painterly style for miniature art. The emphasis is on color and composition and the methods of representing the scene with brush and oil paint is evident. Although the size of the painting may require the viewer to draw close to examine it, it is not so detailed that the entire scene cannot be appreciated with a quick look with the naked eye.

What is Miniature Art? Vintner's Vista

Originally uploaded by miniscapes
This is an example of a highly detailed miniature landscape. Notice the detail on the distant hills, in the trees and buildings. It is executed in a manner that accentuates the representation and not the hand of the artist.


A miniature portrait? Dollhouse decor? Painted figurines? A Persian miniature?
A Russian lacquer box? They are all miniature art.

In western art history, a progression is accepted from illuminated manuscripts to miniature portraiture, and on to today's contemporary miniature revival.

The term "Miniature" as applied to the miniature portaits most popular from the 17th to 19th centuries, actually comes from the Latin term minium, meaning the red lead pigments prominently used in illuminated manuscripts. (To color with minium was the Latin verb miniare, conjugated to the past participle of miniatus, which became the Italian term for the art of illuminating a manuscript, miniatura.)

It's not just size that matters. The common feature of miniature art is the fine detailing. There is so much attention to detail in a good miniature that it can only be fully appreciated under magnification, where more will be revealed than can be seen with the naked eye.

In my painting "Ponte Vechio" you can actually see into some of the windows and archways of Florence, though many of these portals are smaller than a letter on this page.


Originally uploaded by miniscapes
This painting is only 3" high x 2.5" wide. Why would it not be a Miniature Painting? Is it because it doesn't have any people in it? Find out in Miniscape's Miniature Monday post on May 13th: What is a Miniature Painting.

Short Beach - 3.25"X2.25" unframed

Why could this be considered a Miniature Painting? Is it because of the red paint I've used?

Read Miniature Monday's post on What is Miniature Painting on May 13th to find out!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I started this blog with high expectations, but not much direction, in January of 2009. Now spring is here, it's May, and I have a solid plan of how to make this site lively, interesting and original. I want this to be a gathering place for anyone interested in contemporary miniature art and the culture of do-it-yourself-ing.

In the coming months I will be offering not only notes on my painting experience and new work, but an overview of miniature art in the United States today from one artist's perspective, but a source of information for collectors, and an exchange of favorite sources for things we may not need, but that we all love, made by loving hands one piece at a time.

I'm going to start with a day-of-the-week schedule, so you can come back and enjoy the information you're most interested in. On Monday nights I'll be presenting Miniature Monday.
Wednesday I'll bring together ideas and information on buying, collecting, giving, and displaying miniature art. And on Fridays I'll profile other artists and crafters.

Miniature Monday will begin with a four-part introduction to contemporary American miniature art exploring What is Miniature Art, Where and How is Miniature Art Shown Publicly, How is Miniature Art Produced, and The ACEO Phenomenon.

The Collectors Corner on Wednesday will go along with this format in its first four weeks. Topics will be Original, Print, Reprodution on May 13; The Top Five Ways to Buy Miniature Art; Working with a Miniature Artist on a Commissioned Work; and Displaying, Trading and Giving ACEOs.