Frequently Asked Questions


How do you make your color pencil works appear so refined like an oil painting?

This aspect of color pencil art is the most rewarding, yet extremely challenging.  To make the work look smooth and refined, I loosely mix the desired colors first, sometimes as many as four or five overlays, then I carefully burnish them together to create a smooth blend.  The reason this is challenging is that once the colors are burnished there is no turning back. Color pencil blends quite effectively because of its wax base; however, colors appear different in a raw layered state so it's often helpful to practice the blend on a blank sheet of white matte paper, preferably having the same texture as that of your work. 

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What brands of color pencil and oil paints do you use?

My preference for color pencils is Berol Prismacolor and for oils, Grumbacher.

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How do you determine the price of your works?

As a general rule, I price my original works by how much I really want to sell them. I begin with my cost for materials and time, the latter based on a rate per hour typically paid to commercial artists. Then I compute a mark-up according to what the market will bear. The more I like the work, the higher will be its price regardless of what the market will bear. My reproductions are priced per square foot according to the type of paper desired. Click My Store for a schedule of prices and some examples.

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What is the quality of your reproductions?

My original works are digitized using laser scanning technology and my digital works are reproduced each at an average 7.2 mega-pixels resolution.  In either case, the resolution is approximately 97.7% of the original product.  I've never had a complaint about the quality of my products.  Even the paper quality is incomparable.  I use Strathmore 50%+ cotton fiber, acid free papers of 120 lbs. or greater enriched stock.

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What do you think of abstract art?

That's a tough question and one that I've been asked many times before.  Personally I do not understand abstract art, especially if it is presented as random colors and/or shapes.  There are many who believe that abstract art is advocated by those who want us to believe they exist on a higher intellectual plane.  Others advocate that abstract art is an alternative to the realism achievable through modern photography.  Art does not necessarily have to be inexplicably represented to be abstract.  My own works can be given as an example.  Most of my works are realistic presentations of places that exist only in my imagination and my color pencil art makes over-exaggerated use of color as a means of achieving movement and character.  In either case, I am actually deviating from the reality achieved by modern photography, but viewers of my work can at least form a visual point of reference to reality.

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Why do many of your works depicts subjects, like wildlife, that are not central to your composition?

That's a good question since this same characteristic of my works have been a source of criticism from judges and art columnists alike.   My placement of subject is always deliberate and intended to reflect only incidental support of the overall composition.  I do this because I believe that we all are, as are the subjects in my works, merely small parts of a greater whole.

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You have a 70% win rate, but how important is winning a prize, anyway?

First of all, winning prizes should never rule one's reason for the pursuit of art.  Winning is merely a "flash in the pan", fleeting and superfluous, and does nothing more than to perhaps lend some credibility to your work, assuming of course, that the honor is indeed credible, not political or fraudulent.  Professional artists will strive to gain credibility through winning, but usually to achieve access to more competitive art shows.  Nevertheless, this is only one avenue of success in the field of art.  For most artists, popularity is more important than credibility.  The more popular your work, the greater will be its likelihood of selling.  It is very important to understand that people recognize the work more readily than any prize it may have been awarded.  Even more important is that the opinions of judges who award prizes vary, most often with the wave of modern convention or politics, so it doesn't matter. I pursue art because it's just what I like to do, and if someone likes my work, that's great.  If not, that's OK too.  So, just do what you like and the prizes will find you.

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How do you deal with critics?

Most of the time I just ignore them, especially if their criticisms are baseless and non-constructive.  Years ago, I discovered that many critics are incapable of smelling their own sweat.  In fact, I was once criticized for entering an oil painting the critics firmly believed was an airbrush work.  Even after assuring them that I finish my works with a red sable fan blender, they remained unconvinced despite the fact that it is virtually impossible to atomize oils through an airbrush without saturating them with turpentine or linseed oil.  Too much linseed oil can cause premature yellowing and too much turpentine or thinner can result in powdering and cracking, so why even bother.

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Do you work on commission, doing murals or portraits?

Yes, but I choose my commissions carefully.  I have done many portraits and have some that hang in dedication to public buildings named after the subject.  As a rule, I don't really like doing portraits, and for several reasons.  First is that they confine you to a specific subject and offer very little freedom of personal expression.  Second is that the outcome is almost invariably controlled by the emotional appeal of the client.  Third is that, if the client doesn't approve of the outcome, you're generally stuck with a work you don't want and no commission.  My rule for doing portraits is simple.  I charge 30% of the commission in advance, which is non-refundable, and keep the work if the client doesn't like it.  I don't do murals because they only last as long as the wall on which they are painted.  I once watched an old building on which there was a beautiful mural totally demolished to make room for a modern commercial office complex.

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What is morphography?

Morphography is really a made-up word.  I use it to refer to the transformation of one or more existing images to a completely new image, hence, a metaMORPHosis using computer assisted graphics technology.  You may recall from high school biology that the term morph means to form or shape.

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What does it mean to digitize (or what does photo-digital mean)?

If you wanted to write the word "Art", the traditional way to do this is with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.  Now, if you have a computer, you can write the word from a keyboard using a word processor.  In this case, you have just digitized or converted the word to an image on the computer.  To do the same thing with photographs, works of art or three-dimensional objects, instead of a keyboard, you would use a page scanner, digital camera or video capture device. To digitize means to take something that we can see, read, touch, etc.--an object of sorts--and introduce it into a computer.  By so doing, it is possible now to electronically manipulate this object using a variety of software utilities.  For example, we can manipulate numbers using spreadsheet software, words using word processors and images using photo editing or graphics software and so on.  When copying an old photograph using a page scanner, you are actually doing what is referred to as photo-digital imagery capture.

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What software to you use to create your digital paintings?

I like to use Adobe Photoshop, Bryce, DAZ Studio, 3D Studio Max, Maya, Carrara, Poser, Modeler, Elastic Reality, Corel Draw, Ray Dream and similar such products.  These are extremely flexible applications, but take a great deal of time and patience to learn because they are quite elite and require a keen understanding of digital geometry and trigonometry. These programs are also very expensive, so be prepared to make a substantial investment.

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Don't computers pretty much automate the process of creating digital art?

This is a popular misconception fostered by software developers who want to market their products to lay users or to those with little or no computer and artistic skills. In the digital art world we call this "Red-eye-made marketing." Many really good applications like Adobe Photoshop can enhance bad or damaged photos, but only to a very limited extent. Any such enhancements always result in unwanted trade-offs. For example, to eliminate scratches from a digitized photo, the software can be used to automatically mask the entire photo and, by so doing, make it appear blurred. The only way to restore a photograph and achieve professional results is through hard work, patience and skill, robbing good areas to repair bad, all the way down to the level of a single pixel. Digital art is even more complex if you're using spatial geometric palettes like Bryce, Carrara, DAZ Studios, Maya or 3D Studio Max. The reason for this is that you must first learn to use these highly esoteric (and very expensive) applications which may take years. Once you've learned them, you must use them to actually create the objects in your work through the tedious construction of mesh geometries, often requiring complex engineering math skills. Bryce will handle much of your lighting and atmosphere, but you still have to prepare the environment through the rigorous manipulation and arrangement of terrains, textures, boolean objects and interractive primitives. To create more dramatic lighting effects, you must use variable light sources arranged and adjusted precisely according to the bearing and characteristics, respectively, of your primary light source(s). In fact, digital art is so complex that many colleges and universities offer degree programs in this field through, of course, the engineering and applied arts and sciences departments, so be prepared for lots of mathematics and physical sciences courses.

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