Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pastel Drawings – Are they Art?

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Pastel Drawings are they real art or just a tool that artists use to advance their skills? For most drawing with pastels, charcoal or pencil is associated with sketches and rarely with real artwork. But the next time you take a look at a pastel drawing consider this famous drawings are sold regularly for thousands if not millions of dollars. So why are pastels are not so widely known - or in other words - popular?

So why drawings do not get attention they deserve? Well here are few reasons why:

A lot of artists start with drawings or sketches because it is an easier way to learn to draw and very forgiving in a lot of as well. For example you can simply erase wrong line in pencil drawing. The oils usually come next as more advanced level in Art. Thus in memories of a lot of Artists drawings associated with the beginning of their carrier, an entry level if you will, so most do not come back to it after they become established artists. However, the masters that did, created some exceptional artworks that will be highlights of the Art's history forever.

Another aspect is that pastels and charcoal usually are really good for figure drawings since they are the best media to draw skin and so most think that this is the only thing these media are really good for. However, especially with a lot of color pastels available on the market now, there is no limit to what you can draw with pastels.

One other thing that works against drawing is that they are done on paper; not the most durable material to begin with. This is probably the reason why a lot more old oil paintings are available now than drawings.

What works against pastels the most is they are messy. It is very easy to leave a mark or a spot on the paper when drawing with pastels. Watercolor is also very messy, not as bad as pastels or charcoal, but interestingly enough they are also not such popular form of art and always considered second best to oils paintings.

Because of all these reasons artists are hesitant to work with pastels, and they are creating somewhat negative public opinion about pastels. After all who are the best experts on Art - obviously artists themselves.

However, with help of technology, better days are coming for drawings. Paper is now more durable than ever, drawing can be easily framed and protected under the glass and if laminated, then they can survive virtually forever. Since it is very inexpensive to laminate even a large drawing and laminations services are widely available everywhere it is only matter of time until drawings will catch up with paintings in popularity and price.

Tatyana Belyavskaya
Pastel Drawings

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why is it better to use standard canvas sizes?

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If you are buying art or if you are an artist it is better to purchase or create artwork on standard canvas sizes. The reason why is quite simple on both sides of the transactions. Here is why –

If you are a buyer -

When you purchase art and if you are planning to purchase more than one artwork for you home décor, it is better to purchase standard canvas sizes. There are few reasons why:

There are frames available at retail stores that can be a lot cheaper than custom frames. Not all of them will work well with every artwork, and some artwork will have completely different and better look and feel with a custom frame, but never the less, some artwork looks great with just a standard frame from the retail store.

If you do decide to go with a custom frame, there is a chance that the frame you chose is not working to well with your home décor or maybe you just ready to renovate and update your interior. What can work well for redesign is swapping frames between artworks. You will be amazed how you can get a different look and feel from that same 'old and boring' painting - that is if you got an 'old and boring' paintings to begin with.

Also standard size art will make your décor look more organized and classic, when you have all different sizes all over it will look like an art gallery, and not cozy house. Also with standard sizes it is easier to create different wall art compositions – like arranging paintings or drawings in groups of two, three, etc...

If you are an Artist -

Most of the artist do not have their own frame shop, so if you are selling your artwork framed you will be in a better position to get a discount from a frame shop when you are purchasing larger quantity of frames that are the same sizes.

Same as with buyer you can give your artwork a new life by exchanging frames between artworks. And you can offer the same art with different types of frames since they are all the same sizes. People like different taste, so having different framing options available always helps.

With standard canvas sizes shipping and handling can be a walk in a park. Once you packaged one item, you can use the same materials and approach to package and ship another. Plus you don't have to figure out new shipping charges every time since same sizes will most likely have the same shipping cost.

See newer post with the actual canvas sizes provided:
What are the standard canvas sizes?

Find samples of standard sizes canvas oil paintings here:
Oil Paintings on Canvas

Mikhail Onanov

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Photography Art Prints – how are they made?

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Nowadays just about anyone can take a good quality photographs with a digital camera. Or take a few hundred pictures and the chances are few will be good, and even one or two outstanding.

Here are a few tips, tricks and techniques on how to make art print poster ready photographs and print ready digital files. Don’t get overwhelmed, there is a lot of information here, but a lot of it is just intuitive. Well, a bit of patience will always help.

First thing – Photo Size

If you taking a digital photo of you family or friend the largest size you would print is usually 5 by 7 inches, maybe 8 by 10 at the most. Even small size digital photographs (2MB or less) are ‘good enough’ to create a decent print. But if you want to create prints that are 16 by 20, 20 by 24 inches or larger you need more pixels (in pixels 20 by 24 inches photo is actually about 40 times larger than 3 by 4 inches photo assuming they have the same resolution).

So, when you are taking a photo for photography art print or poster you have to determine first the largest size of art print or poster that you are planning to make. To play it safe set your digital camera to largest size possible. Even an average digital camera will allow you take pictures up to 10MB in size, which is about 3600 by 2700 pixels. All newer computers can handle 10MB files fairly easily, plus you will ‘loose’ a few megabytes when you upload you photograph to a PC (I’ll cover MAC in a separate article) and when you edit it.

Second thing – Editing Photo

I use Photoshop to edit photographs and create print ready files for prints and posters. There are many different photo editing software out there and majority if not all of them have the basics needed in the beginning. I just purchased standard edition Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 for a friend for about $80 at Costco a few months ago, and usually it is more than enough. A professional version can cost a few hundred dollars and has many more features, but it only makes sense for a professional photographer to buy it.

Once you have uploaded your files to a computer you are ready to start editing. If Photoshop opened by default at the time of upload, close it and open it again in edit mode. (There is probably a better way to switch to edit mode, but I found this to be the easiest for me).


When you open your photo the first thing you want to do is check your file resolution. Many products will open photo for editing with default resolution – 72 dip (72 pixels per inch). This is not enough for large photography art prints or posters, so you want to set it to at least 300 dip (300 pixels per inch, the higher the better, but higher resolution mean larges file sizes, and if they too large you might not even be able to save them is web formats like jpeg). Once you have set your resolution it is time to set your print file size.

Quick tips:

1. Determine Scale – If your largest print will be let’s say 20 by 24 inches, then you have to keep in mind that when you scaling down to smaller sizes it has to be proportionate to the largest one, or the photo will either have to be deformed in width, height or both. You then will lose consistency in your prints, and sometimes even make them look bad.
Also, it takes longer to make adjustments and edits with large file, so I usually start with a medium size, but before I save the file, I scale it up to the desired size.

2. Remember about borders – most of the photography prints or posters have a border around them. This is done on purpose, since they look better in a frame with a border. So, the image size would be actual picture size, plus the size of the border (In other words, if you printing 20 by 24 inches photo with 1 inch border on each size, your actual photo size is now 18 by 22 inches, and that is the size you need to use for scaling). You can also use border to your advantage, if a photograph can not be scaled to a smaller size using the same proportions, then you can increase or decrease the border to maintain the proportions.

3. Background - Another thing to remember, I seen great photographs were rejected just for that, when you select an object from a photo and remove background and just replace it with a filler (let’s say white color background) remember about the border. Will your print still look good with the border around it, or is it better to make a background different color then the border, so you can tell where the photo ends and border begins?

There are hundreds of different way to edit the photo, so this is really just up to your taste and the end result you have in mind. Software’s manual will be the best guide for that.


So you have a photo and it is perfect, but you need to crop it on with side or both. What is the best way to do this? Again, you have to know you final size for the largest print, and make sure that after you crop the photo it can be scaled up to the desired size without being deformed. Thus, when crop before you select your changes check to see if the end result can be scaled up easily, or if it is at least close to the desired size. (If I’m planning to create three different photography art print sizes, then I’ll use the medium one for editing, I also would zoom in as much as it makes sense, since with a lot of digital editing it is easier to see details that way).
If you can not get the photo to the right sale due to the things that you absolutely have to crop to make the photo perfect, then see if you can adjust it and keep the end result acceptable. For example, you end up with 20 by 24.01 inches file after crop, if you chose not to contain proportions and adjust the file to 20 by 24 inches; the chances are the image will not be distorted much. But once you have done this, it becomes you ‘master’ photo, so only use your ‘master’ now to scale up or down to a desired size.

Third thing – Proofing and Saving

Proofing –

If you made digital adjustments to your photograph, especially if you used tools to do it for you, you need to make sure there are no surprises. The best way that works for me, is I zoom to the actual size of the print and manually examine the entire photo. Many times unexpected details would appear even on an original photograph. So do your ‘do diligence’, check every part carefully.

Saving –

There are dozens, if not hundreds, different formats that that can be accepted by printers. Usually, tiff format is used for very high quality fine photography art prints and posters, jpeg on the other hand should be good enough to create large prints that are s good in quality as the prints you will find in most retail stores. So, check on preferred format with whoever will be printing these for you, or if you have an ability to print them yourself, then trial and error seems to work well for me.

Fourth thing – What Makes it Photography Art versus just a Photograph?

I have asked this question myself number of times, but I do not think it there is a definitive answer. I would say if people like it and buy it, then it is photography art print and not just a large photo.

Attached below are a couple examples:

1. Red Rose – This is digitally modified photograph of a rose – it has been modified quite a bit – background, color, flower edges, etc… I’ve mostly received negative critique on this print from professional photographers (gray background, unclear edges, etc…), but I made it into photography art print and it sells well.

2. Original Rose – this is actual the original photograph f the rose, with only background removed. ‘Red Rose’ print was made from it.

So you’ll be the judge of what the photography art is and what isn’t. In the end if you feel like creating something, then just go for it, at the minimum your reward would be your own satisfaction.

See more photography art here:
Photography Art

Dmitry Raguimov