I love the work of photographer David Lorenz Winston, so when I saw what looked to be an original oil painting by him entitled “Solitude”, at an unbelievably low price, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was right not to — it wasn’t an oil, but a giclÈe print of a photograph on a textured gloss or surface-treated canvas, so it looked, at least to my untrained eye, like an original oil. It glimmers in the light and reflects light off the sides of the pigment as you move, just like hand-painted oil or acrylic. GiclÈe (invented by rocker Graham Nash) is like inkjet on steroids — 12-colour hi-res inkjet copies produced one-off from a digital master. By contrast, most prints use lithography — an upscale dot-matrix technology but with only four colours used and relatively poor resolution.  The combination of giclÈe and gloss/surface treated canvas is a great example of innovation, and I commend the studio, Northland Art Company, for using it. The photo above (excuse the warp — my lousy photography) is taken from the giclÈe-on-canvas print; a plain print by Winston from his website is below. You can get an idea by comparing them of the richness and three-dimensionality that this ultra-high-resolution colour and stippling effect adds.


paint closeupWinston’s work looks almost surreal, as if it were photoshopped, but the giclÈe-on-canvas (close up sample at right) seems to restore its ‘authenticity’, by psychologically transforming it from a photo (a mechanical reproduction), to a painting (a man-made reproduction).

When a photographer doctors his shot, unless it’s very clever and artistic we’re inclined to call it fraud. But when an artist uses paint or watercolour to portray something in a distorted, exaggerated or surreal way, whether it’s real or imagined, we call it art.

The distributor at Northland said the process can double the walk-by sales of a print. And the process can make a poor art collector look like an affluent collector of originals. Now I’m wondering if it would be possible to take some of my ‘flat’ prints and either surface-treat them, and/or re-print them onto textured canvas, so they look like the original watercolours, oils or acrylics instead of just prints. Any artists tell me if that’s possible? And what are the ethical issues of re-printing (for personal use only) or surface-treating a signed print — does this open up the same issues for the art world that digital copying and file-sharing have produced for musicians and film-makers?

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  1. Harrison says:

    Sorry, not a comment exactly related to to post. I have a family member who’s trying to blow the whistle on a major polluter, and I’d like to help him. There are some hints on my site about what’s going on; more should follow soon. Just wanted to say hi (you may remember me from a some months back, before I stopped blogging) and that I’d appreciate any advice you have as the story unfolds.

  2. kim says:

    first thing, photoshop, doctor and process all you want. you, artist or not, have the right to do whatever is required so that your object most closely represents your idea. if you’re an artist, that becomes also a responsibility. unless of course if you’re saying, explicitly, “here is objective reality”, and who bothers with that on canvas are ok but, um, they conflict with my objective reality as not so photographic. or something. i do like to print on heavy , cold pressed watercolor papers.assuming you’re talking digital prints, both watercolor papers and canvas, ready for inkjet, are available.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Harrison: My only advice is to have the victims quickly obtain advice from both a law firm with a record of prosecuting environmentally irresponsible companies and an advocacy agency to help with the research. I am concerned that GLCC’s and the EPA’s immediate reaction is going to be to threaten libel action against McKinnon for the serious claims he makes, unless he has hard evidence — a standard scare tactic of polluters. A good place to start might be contacting Robert Kennedy Jr.’s organization NRDC.

  4. Harrison says:

    Thanks! I know they are using a law firm — don’t know anything about its track record on environmental issues. I’ve talked to a number of relatives who’ve worked for the place, and I what I’ve heard is horrifying.

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