Capture the Best High Res Image of Your Painting

There is a wide variety of good information available on how to best photograph your own artwork, should you decide to do it yourself. A simple google search will direct you to several great sources. That’s not what this post is about. Instead, this article is about how to obtain the best High Res files to use for accurately reproducing and representing your artwork in print.

Also, since many painting organizations, including the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS), pull the image submitted with the entry through Juried Art Services for printing the exhibit catalog, it’s important to upload the best High Res image you can when submitting to an exhibition.

Before we delve into the two basic methods for capturing a High-Res image of your original artwork, we first need to introduce a must-have accessory — the Color Calibration Chart.

NOAPS Blog picture 2 March 2020

CAPTION: Color Calibration Chart, front and back with color recipes listed.

Color Calibration Charts or Guides have been around for a long time but in today’s fast-paced technology-driven world, its use has fallen to the wayside. And that’s a shame because there really is nothing better to assist in color correction and adjustment.

How does it work?

First, the chart should be placed alongside your artwork (so it’s under the same lighting conditions) and included in all High Res images. Do not crop it out of the shot. The chart can be cropped out of images for use on websites and entry submissions.

The chart includes squares printed with 100% Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow ink, the inks used in most four-color printing processes, as well as 100% black, white and a value range between which is helpful in correcting for white balance and exposure.

The squares of color in the chart are a “known” and provide a frame of reference for use in adjusting an image for accuracy before printing.

Color Calibration Charts vary greatly in price, here are links to an affordable option, and a professional version available through Amazon.

 

Methods for Capturing High Res Images

High Res Scans

Scanning is by far the best option as far as image quality and clarity, every inch of the painting will be in focus and under the same lighting conditions. Scanning original artwork is not always practical especially if your work is large and has lots of thick paint creating a very textured surface.

300dpi is considered High Res, but when scanning a painting — I always scan at a higher dpi. How high? It depends on the capabilities of the scanner. My artwork is scanned at 1200dpi. Why so high? It offers more flexibility down the road with the option to reproduce it much larger or select a detail area for print and not have it pixelate as a result.

Remember, an image can always be reduced in size/resolution but not the other way around. Read “Answering the High/Low Res Question” for more on that topic.

The size of the painting isn’t a total deterrent to scanning because portions of the scanned artwork can be stitched together using Adobe® Photoshop® or a similar photo program.

Many printers offer High Res scanning and have large bed scanners.

High Res Photographs

Traditional film photography is rarely used these days so I am only going to talk about digital photography. Some things to keep in mind are:

Ask for the raw files in addition to the traditional images provided. Some photographers automatically include these while others do not.

Ask for the largest file size their equipment will provide. Some photographers, as a courtesy, provide 300dpi and 72dpi versions.

Ask for uncropped versions that include the Color Calibration Chart/Guide.

Most importantly, talk to the photographer about how you might be using the photos. High-quality giclée prints, exhibit catalog, promotional materials are all good examples. I say might because we don’t know what the future holds for us and often the High Res images are all we have after a painting has (cross your fingers) sold!

The bottom line, leave it to the professionals! With the cost of the equipment, their knowledge, and the fact that technology is always advancing, it’s worth it.

 

Using a Smartphone Camera

The entry deadline is tomorrow, there isn’t enough time to get the painting scanned or professionally photographed, so we snap a picture with our smartphone. Sound familiar?

I almost hate to mention this because it truly is not the best option but I’ve done it and I’m betting you have too — so let’s talk about the best way to do it.

Most smartphone camera apps take photos at 72dpi, with the only variable being image dimensions. My iPhone images automatically open in Photoshop® to 52×46 inches at 72dpi.

Creating a SMALL High Res from a LARGE Low Res Image

NOAPS blog picture March 2020

Before taking the photos, make sure the setting in the camera app is for the largest image size possible. Take photos of the painting and open in Adobe® Photoshop® or other photo editing software.

  • Crop the image to just
  •  the artwork, it’s important to make all edits before saving as a High Res image file.
  • Check the image size to
  •  see what the new height and width measurements (dimensions) are after being cropped.
  • Using a photo editing program,
  •  set the resolution to 300dpi and reduce the dimensions of the cropped smartphone image. A rough guideline to use is
  • 72dpi x width ÷ 300dpi = minimum reduced size.

In the above example, the math works out to be 72dpi x 20 inches = 1440 pixels ÷ 300dpi = 4.8 inches for the minimum reduction in size. Therefore the image would need to reduce to at least 4.8 inches wide or smaller at 300dpi for it to be an acceptable high res file.

This only works because you are shrinking a large size (height x width) Low Res image to a small size (h x w) High Res image. It’s not the best method but it works in a pinch. However, this method should not replace the more effective methods mentioned earlier for generating the best quality High Res image of an original painting.

Whether a painting has sold, been given as a gift, donated to raise money for a charity, painted over, or possibly damaged due to a natural disaster — in the end, photographs (or scans) are often the only visual record we have. As artists, we owe it to our future selves to capture the best High Res images we can today. And don’t forget to back up the files, computer’s fail too.

Written by Nancy Murty, NOAPS Publicity Director
If you found this post helpful and would like to learn more about reproducing your artwork head over to my blog, there are more great posts on RGB vs CMYK color reproduction, Getting the Color Right and on Answering the High/Low Res Question.

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Tim Breaux: A Tip and a Tool for 2020

Do you want to paint better in 2020?

Is that your resolution?

Well, you are not alone.  Whether you are a part time beginner or a full time pro some things are universal.  Deep down we all want to paint better.

Today I want to share one of my new tools and a useful tip that will get your new year off to a great start.

The Tool:
My 24 x 30 inch glass palette broke recently.  I had painted hundreds of paintings from it so it was really past its prime.  Years of scraping and cleaning left it scratched and pitted.

The untempered replacement glass cost about $13 from the hardware store.  This time I painted a nine step value scale on the back side using painters tape and cheap bottles of black and white acrylic paint. Since it was untempered I had to be very careful not to break the glass throughout the process.

Now I can place spots of color right on top of the value scale to test the value.  No more holding the palette knife or brush up to the painting and guessing.

The Tip:

Color is composed of hue, value and chroma. We typically name colors according to the hue component: red, green, yellow, brown, grey. That is how we are taught and how we are wired. But colors are actually the hue in the context of a certain value.

I Utilize this new palette to follow a two step process when choosing a color.

Step one – Name the hue of the color.

Step two – Name the value of the color by placing it in the correct value space.

Safety tip -If you do this yourself keep in mind that you will constantly be working with a large sheet of sharp and dangerous glass. Safety is paramount.

What if there was just one thing you could learn today that would allow you to paint the way you always wanted? That is my goal for all of the information I share with you in these newsletters. The truth is we usually need several “just one things” that build over time, eventually leading to revolutions in our work. I have had several of those a-ha moments over the years. They were hard fought battles at the easel, on the computer and through interaction with artists I admire and trust. I want to share that knowledge with you here.

Written by Tim Breaux.  To see more about Tim, visit his website at www.timbreaux.com.

For a copy of his free e-book on value and color, go to:

https://mavenmethodtraining.lpages.co/secret-language-to-painting-art-that-sells/

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Dan Gerhartz: Balance…Poetry and Structure

  “Clematis” 30 x 40, Oil

When I have been most moved and impressed by artwork, music, or any expressive art form, it has been when the work has first grabbed my soul with its poetry, then amazed my mind in its structure and construction.

Throughout my development as a visual artist, I have found my greatest struggle in the making of art is to balance the crafting of accurate, solid forms while retaining the lyrical nature of the visual world. So often in my efforts to capture the exactness of what I am seeing, I lose the poetic beauty and essence of the elegant, peripheral line.

For me, the balance comes when I can relax enough while in the throws of building the solid structure of the forms to absorb and feel the rhythm before me. Certainly this comes with experience, but to be aware of the end goal during the early stages of development is critical in not becoming too stiff in your approach. While working and studying the subject, to feel the connectedness of the forms, the living, breathing life of our subject makes a clear difference to me in the end result. I have found that it is having faith that the poetry will come and manifest itself if I am true to the beauty and strength of the construction, being careful not to overthink the problem.  Allowing all of your senses to take part in the mechanical process is the beginning of where the poetry begins.

I wish you great success as you strive to bring your paintings to life in poetic strength!

To view more work by Daniel Gerhartz, please visit http://www.danielgerhartz.com

Dan Gerhartz will be the Judge of Awards for the 2020 NOAPS Small Painting National Juried Exhibition at the McBride Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland April 5-May 3, 2020.  Dan will also conduct a 4 day workshop, “Training the Eye to See”.  To sign up for the workshop go to www.noaps.org.

Written by Daniel Gerhartz, 12-19-2014

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Neal Hughes: En Plein Air

NOAPS Hughes Olsen House 20x20

“Olsen House”, 20×20, Oil, by Neal Hughes; Winner of Best Landscape in the 2019 NOAPS Fall Online International

The soft lighting in the “Olsen House” makes the viewer begin to imagine…we first wonder what is the time of day, and then if the house has inhabitants.  Then our minds begin to wander about the painting, creating it’s story for ourselves.  The artist has given us hints; the slightly unkempt foreground, yet a door through which we can enter.  Our eyes travel around stopping where we think we find a clue as the dance of warm and cool colors lead us through the painting.

NOAPS Hughes MimsCreek14x18  “Mims Creek”, 14×18, Oil.  Painted during the En Plein Air Texas Competition, San Angelo, Texas.  Private Collection.

Neal Hughes has been an artist for his entire life.  He started at a young age, and continued at the Philadelphia College of Art with a degree in illustration.  His illustration took center stage until he began his current focus on fine art.

NOAPS Hughes DreamBoatNocturne18x24  “Dream Boat Nocturne”, 18×24, Oil.  Winner of First Place at the Cape Ann Plein Air Competition, Gloucester, MA.  Neal Hughes Studio (Collection of the Artist).

Hughes has garnered his wealth of knowledge from different sources: museums such as the Brandywine Museum and the Philadelphia art museums; and the many books in his personal library.  Among his favorite artists are Sargent, William Merritt Chase, Thomas William Dewing and Childe Hassam.

NOAPS Hughes RiverPalm20x16  “River Palm”, 20×16, Oil.  Painted during the Lighthouse Plein Air Competition, Tequesta, FL.  Neal Hughes Studio (Collection of the Artist).

Working exclusively in oils, Hughes’ favorite genre is the landscape.  He can often be found at plein air competitions; his painting ‘Olsen House’ was awarded First Place at the Grand Traverse Plein Air Competition.  He often includes man made objects in his paintings; boats and architecture are favorite subjects.

NOAPS Hughes ChurchNocturne20x20  “Church Nocturne”, 20×20, Oil.  Painted during the Wayne Plain Air Competition, Manyunk, PA.  Neal Hughes Studio (Collection of the Artist).

Hughes paints with oil primed linen, which he stretches for large paintings, or mounts to Gatorboard for smaller paintings done en plein air.  Using bristle brushes, his palette consists of primary colors and a few earth colors: titanium white, cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow, Indian yellow, cadmium red, alizarin crison, utltramarine blue, pthalo blue, yellow ochre and terra rosa.  He begins by carefully planning his composition and value structure, then blocking in the large shapes.  For his block in he uses a mixture of ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson for the darkest areas, then adding terra rosa for a slightly lighter value, ending with cadmium yellow or red mixed with titanium white for the lightest values.  After the block in he continues by adding more color and making further adjustments.

NOAPS Hughes MorningMist30x40  “Morning Mist”, 30×40, Oil.  Studio painting based on plein air study, Rockland, ME.  Neal Hughes Studio (Collection of the Artist).

Neal encourages the artist to paint as often as possible…”the most important ingredient once you get past learning the basics is just hard work.  Experiment with techniques…..the more successful artists are constantly working and challenging themselves to make progress.”

To see more of Neal Hughes’ work go to www.nealhughes.com.

Neal Hughes is represented by the Sylvan Gallery, Wiscasset, ME; The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT; J. Russell Jinishian Gallery, Stonington, CT; Susan Powell Fine Art, Madison, CT; the Hughes Gallery, Boca Grande, FL; the Chestnut Hill Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Warm Springs Gallery, Warm Springs, VA; Design Domaine Gallery, Spring Lake, NJ.

To view the NOAPS 2019 Fall Online International Exhibition go to www.noaps.org.

Edited by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

 

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R. Gregory Summers: For Love of the Scene

NOAPS SUMMERS_R_ GREGORY_To Run With the Puma

“To Run With the Puma”, 24×30, Oil, Winner of ‘Most Innovative’ from the NOAPS 2019 Fall Online International Exhibition by R. Gregory Summers.

The vast expanse of clay rooftops spreads before our eyes fading into the distant haze, giving us the impression that the city goes on forever.  The sameness of the structured buildings has the opposite effect of monotony; it forces us to look closer, to find the differences.  And in doing so, we see the lives of the people who live there; we imagine their courtyards, their gardens, their interior spaces.  We find ourselves creating the stories of their lives, and the painting has captivated our imagination.  As the artist states: “‘To Run with the Puma’ was inspired by the city of Cusco, Peru, where I was on a trip along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  High above the city was an amazing view stretching before me of this ancient world built by the Incas.  I was hoping to capture a little of the feel of the people, the history and the love of it’s culture.”

NOAPS Summers Exiting Gloucester  “Exiting Gloucester”, Oil, 18×14, Folger Gallery.

R. Gregory Summers began in earnest to study art after a tour of duty with the Air Force.  He had always done drawings at a young age, and painting as a teen, but classes at a local community college helped to develop his talent.  He began working at Hallmark Cards, where for 30 years he worked as a Master Engraver.  Along the way he has taken independent study courses, particularly with Jean Howard at the Johnson County Community College, Anne Garney with the Kansas City Art Institute and artist Rick Howell.

NOAPS Summers The Secret Rites of the Atchafalaya Swamp  “The Secret Rites of the Atchafalaya Swamp”, Oil, 12×16, Collection of the Artist.

Summers works mainly in oil today, and is inspired by the landscape.  He enjoys plein air painting, and loves to “just wander and look.  My inspiration to paint can come from anything…the way light catches a leaf or just the serenity of what is before me.  I look for peace and contentment as I wander, and I never know what it will be.  This is what makes my best work.”

NOAPS Summers West Side Coffee  “West Side Coffee”, Oil, 11×14, The Rice Gallery.

For the past 8 years Summers has painted with only 4 colors: ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, cadmium red light and cadmium yellow light.  His supports are gessoed panels or canvas panels, and uses mainly flat brushes.  His studio is the great outdoors from March to November, but does studio painting during the winter months.  When plein air painting, he starts by drawing a 2×3 inch Notan, then starts the painting by laying in a few important construction lines followed by a block in.  This is all done quickly, so that he can complete the painting based on his initial impression.

NOAPS Summers Dripping Springs  “Dripping Springs”, Oil, 50×30, The Rice Gallery.

Though the distinction of winning awards has certainly been a boon to his career as an artist, his most cherished experiences come from helping others: “what sticks in my mind was letting a little girl with Down Syndrome take over my painting during an event in Texas.  She put two colors together and began mixing.  The look in her eyes was to die for; it was magical.  Helping and inspiring others far outweighs any of the accolades I have received.”

Words to work by?  As his mentor, Rick Howell told him, “don’t be afraid to lose a good painting in trying for a great one.”

To view more artwork by R. Gregory Summers go to www.rgregorysummers.com.   Summers is represented by the Rice Gallery of Fine Art, Overland Park, Kansas; the Kathy Cline Gallery in Parkville, MO; Mr. Millers Art Emporium in Saugatuck, MI; the Papa Gallery in Boca Raton, FL and the Folger Gallery, Midland, Texas.

To view the 2019 Fall Online International go to www.noaps.org.

Edited by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

 

 

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Introducing: Nancy Murty, NOAPS Newest Board Member

NOAPS Murty_SeasonsEnd-10x8-600px  “Season’s End”, Oil on Linen, 10×8, Collection of the Artist.

Nancy Murty’s delicate rendering of birds and other natural elements are the result of years of observation and careful study.  Her use of color, composition and edgework create graceful paintings that depict the honest nature of her subjects.  Nancy is a full time artist, and maintains a studio in Downtown Rochester, New York.  She has extensive experience in business, having run her own business and worked at advertising agencies for over 20 years.  She is also highly knowledgeable in social media communications, and we would like to introduce Nancy to you as our newest NOAPS Board Member.  As a part of our board, Nancy will work on publicity, bringing to you all the latest news and opportunities that NOAPS has to offer!

NOAPS Murty apple.1  “Apple.1”, Oil on Linen, 5×7.  Collection of the Artist.

Here is a bit about Nancy:

It all started on a cold winters day with an odd collection of accumulated colored pencils, scraps of paper and a bored little girl.

Sitting at her grandma’s kitchen table, Nancy Murty began sketching the birds as they visited the feeder outside the window or drawing inspiration form an old copy of Birds of America.  Little did she know that those days spent with her grandma would lead her down a path that she continues to this day.

Nancy didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming an artist, but art has always been just under the surface in each step of her life – from working in the advertising industry to designing her own fabric lines for Andover Fabrics in New York.  Today, painting and sketching are central to her life.

Drawing her inspiration from life, her experiences visiting National, State and local parks, wildlife refuges, and her own backyard, Nancy captures the beauty and harmony of the outside world.  Each experience is essential to understanding the subject and translation of organic forms and colors into a cohesive painting structure.

During the spring and autumn bird migrations,, you’ll find Nancy volunteering with the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory’s (near Lake Ontario, New York) bird banding program.  Nancy believes direct observation is the key to her success…

NOAPS Murty_SeedBreaker-9x12-600px  “Seed Breaker”, Oil on Linen, 9×12.  Collection of the artist.

To view more of Nancy’s work, visit her website at wwwnancymurty.com or on Instagram.

Welcome, Nancy!

Edited by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

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2019 Best of America National Juried Exhibition: Part Two

NOAPS 2019 Big BOA Thin Space 16x16Edwards_Joel_627075-1  “Thin Space”, 16×16, Oil by Joel Edwards was winner of “Best Landscape”.

Upon seeing the painting “Thin Space” by Joel Edwards at the Best of America Exhibition in Park City, there could be no doubt it was an award winning painting.  The harmonious colors, the composition and the value structure all read from across the room, and then upon seeing the painting closely there was such delicate brushwork and beautifully layered colors, the painting was truly captivating.  Here is what the artist had to say about his work:

““Thin Space” as an invitation to slow down and take notice of the beauty that is so abundant and yet moves by so quickly.  This can be seen very clearly at sunset, the time between what was and what is to come. The privilege of the painter is to see beyond the obvious physical attributes of a scene and search for the underlying meaning of a place, something outside of what our eyes can see; the time when the veil between the physical and the spiritual is especially thin.”  Joel Edwards.

NOAPS 2019 Big BOA Eyes Closed 30x20Flack_McGarren_626042-1  “Eyes Closed”, Oil, 30×20, by McGarren Flack was winner of Best Use of Values.

When looking at values and how an artist uses this very important tool in a piece of art, one can consider it in two ways:  either the artist has employed a very wide range of values throughout, or the artist has used a very narrow range of values and expanded that narrow range almost infinitely.  The latter is the approach that our Judge of Awards, Jian Wu, found in McGarren’s work.  The viewer must look very closely to see the minute changes of value, temperature and color in this remarkable piece.  Here is what the artist had to say about the painting:

“I personally love painting skin tones in cool light and warm light. It is fun to explore the various changes in value, color, and saturation. I feel like this painting describes the subtlety of form with cool colors and keeping the value range low almost like she is stepping into the light from the darkness. It was awesome to see I got an award for values, since that was the main focus of the piece.”  McGarren Flack.

NOAPS 2019 Big BOA Dawa, 14x21LIAN_CHENG_626700-1  “Dawa”, 14×21, Oil, by Cheng Lian, winner of Best Painting by a Signature or Master Member.

The expression on the face of the small boy in Cheng Lian’s painting asks the viewer to create the story; why does the young face appear anxious?  But the expression was only part of the reason for the prestigious award; our Judge of Awards was impressed by the artist’s handling of light.  The face, in partial shadow, is almost back-lit; an approach in which the artist must find just the right mix of warm and cool skin tones to achieve the desired outcome.  The artist focused the details near the face only, and left the less important areas to the viewer’s imagination.

Consider viewing all the award winning paintings to discover for yourself the characteristics of the painting that made it stand out at www.noaps.org!

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

 

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