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Wrendesign is an artist-owned company showcasing about 400 original paintings and also offering a section on illustrated children's stories online which can be downloaded free for single use. This blog is maintained by one of the resident artists. To see our website please click on link above.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What is an "Original" Painting

This is somewhat confusing to those not in the field.   In the art field a true original means one painting created directly by the artist - as in an artist stands at an easel and produces an oil or acrylic painting.    Actually two or more artists could collaborate, but there is still only one painting.   The definition of what is painting can be broad, but the result is always ONE original artwork.

Copies may subsequently be made, as in prints, posters, photos, or even hand-done copies done by other artists, but there is only one "original".

Artists can, and frequently do, authorize copies of their originals to supplement income and make art more affordable.    These are usually now done with digital cameras or scanners and a high-quality printer.    They can be quite expensive if done to high standards.   Usually they are done in a limited quantity, and often they may be signed and numbered by the original artist.    They can be printed onto high quality paper or onto canvas.   They do not have to be the same size as the original.   

Giclee prints fall into this category.    When done on canvas, they can look very much like the original.   Sometimes they are hand textured with a clear gel to give the feel of brushstrokes.    This is usually done by a technician, not the artist.  There is nothing wrong with this - they make art affordable to more people and help support the artist.    But they should not be confused with a true original, which is one of a kind.    A giclee print may have an edition of 50 or an edition of thousands.    As an example, the original of a particular  painting may cost $10000, while a good quality giclee print on canvas of the painting in a limited edition may cost $500.    These should be labeled in galleries as giclee reproductions, but sometimes they are called giclee originals.  

There is another type of "original" painting that is in the market.   These are actually done by people (usually in places where wages are low) in a mass production line fashion.   One method is to have an artist stand on a podium before 50 other workers, all in front of a canvas.   The artist says, paint a tree on the left like this, the 50 copy it, and so on until the picture is done.   Another method is to have the pictures move down an assembly line, and each worker adds one element, such as the tree, which he has been trained to paint.   The output is 50 or more "originals" which are all essentially the same painting.    A third method is to have an artist make many quick copies of the same painting.    These are the "originals" you see offered for very low prices at art "sales" and in some furniture stores.   They are original only in that they are paint on canvas, they are not one of a kind.    If you see a large framed painting touted as an original and on sale for $150 it is probably one of these.   No artist could survive at such prices.

In my next post I'll touch on Original Graphics.

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