Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What I've Learned So Far in Transition

by Kate Dardine

So here I am, a few months into my “transition” from full time employment to full-time self-employment. I am currently working three days at Fine Print, and two days in my studio. In my last post, I wrote about coming up with a schedule for my studio days, to keep me focused on producing and marketing my paintings. 
So, what have I learned?  That I still don’t have enough time!  That I much prefer painting in daylight than under artificial lights – but since two full days of painting/marketing doesn’t give me enough time, I must still paint at night.  I’ve discovered it’s better to start the painting at night and finish in the day – my colors are more true.  Also, finishing a painting takes much more mental acuity – a slower, more analytical process.  Beginning a painting is when I can let raw emotions loose, and it is much more physical – perfect after a day at the computer.

Speaking of computers, I’ve also learned I need a new one.  Not that I didn’t know that before (heck, mine is almost 10 years old and is still running XP!) but having to rely on the old, bogged down machine causes me frustration.  I guess I’d better write a letter to Santa!

I’ve learned that it is better for me to get computer/marketing work done in the morning and paint in the afternoon, so I’ve had to modify my self-imposed schedule to accommodate this preference.

I’m learning how to paint more consistently, in that I am discovering repeatable motifs and processes. I believe this comes from more consistent painting time and an evolving appreciation for my own “voice”. Self-doubt (my inner critic) still plagues me, but I’m learning to step away from a painting when self-doubt strikes – distance and time let me look at the painting with fresh eyes and an open mind. At the same time, I’m able to assess my compositions better and determine how I want the eye to move through the painting. Now for some of you, this skill comes easily.  However, it’s been my nemesis. I “knew” that I needed to direct the eye, but for some reason never gave it much consideration.   Now I liken it to a treasure hunt – what delights can I (and the viewer) discover?

I have discovered Pinterest – and have created a board called “inspiration”. On this board I pin paintings by other artists that intrigue me – either by use of color, composition, technique or subject matter.  I refer to the board when I’m feeling stuck on a painting. It really helps to see how other artists have solved similar problems. Click here to follow me on Pinterest.

Another trick I am trying is keeping a small sketchbook with me at all times for painting ideas – sometimes the title of a painting will pop in my head, with a vision of what the painting could look like.  If I don’t write it down and quickly sketch it, it’s lost.

And how about the other side of my business –the marketing end? That has proven to be a bit of a struggle as well. I am trying to be more consistent with posting on social media, writing blogs, writing my newsletter (you can sign up for it here).  On my “to-do” list for this week is to come up with a master schedule for posting, blogging, newsletters, mailings.  Applying to galleries is something I plan on starting in January – instead of a hit or miss way of contacting galleries, I want to create a schedule and method.

And lastly, for now… I realize how hard it is for me to talk about my work. This is something that has plagued me throughout my life – the fear of public speaking! (Hey, I’m a visual artist and a writer, not an orator! ) However, the time has come for me to face my fears and get over it!

Kate Dardine has been helping artists and photographers with their marketing and printing needs for over 26 years. She is now making the transition to full time artist, and invites you to follow along on her journey. You can see her work at

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Can You Embellish on That?

In the world of giclée printing – most notably canvas giclée printing - embellishing is the hot trend.
Whenever we discuss hand embellishing of prints, we get a flood of questions, like:
  • Should you embellish your giclées?
  • What choices are there for embellishing?
  • What products can be used?
  • How does embellishing affect archival quality of the print?
  • What the heck IS embellishing, anyway?
Webster’s dictionary defines embellish as:
1. To make beautiful by ornamentation: adorn.
2. To add fanciful details to. 

As applied to fine art paper and canvas giclées, embellishment refers to painting over areas of the print to enhance color and/or adding brush strokes to the finished print. The following list of do’s and don’ts for embellishing your giclée prints should shed some light on the subject. 

the tools you need for adding brushstrokes

  1. We do not recommend embellishing fine art paper giclées with watercolor paint. Although our giclée prints on fine art paper are water resistant, the inks can be lifted with water and a brush. Instead, if you want to punch up a color, use a colored pencil (Berol Prismacolor work well,) or use a pastel pencil. Pastel pencils tend to have a duller finish than colored pencils. If you simply MUST embellish using water based paints, use the smallest abound of water needed to achieve the effect you want. In any case, use a light touch at first and experiment on your proof until you get the effect you are looking for.
  2. Fine Print canvas giclées come to you sprayed with a protective coating, allowing you to paint on top with acrylic or oil paints. If using acrylic paints, mix a bit of gloss gel medium to the acrylic paint to provide a sheen that will match that of the canvas finish. Do not spray or varnish over the canvas after you have painted on top of it. Your finish may not be compatible with ours. How much or how little embellishing you do is entirely up to you.
  3. You can also add texture to your canvas giclées by adding brush strokes with Liquitex gel medium (make sure you get the kind that dries transparent), brushes made for acrylic paint and water (for thinning). You can apply it pretty thick if you want – we applied areas up to about 1/8” thick and, although they took 24 hours to dry, they did dry transparently. If you want to embellish for color and add brush strokes, add the acrylic paint first, then the gel medium after the paint has dried thoroughly.
  4. You can add brush strokes to giclée prints on watercolor paper. However, we do not coat the watercolor paper, and adding the gel medium will noticeably alter the density – in other words, your print will appear much darker/punchier after applying gel medium. For this reason, we do not recommend adding texture to giclée prints on watercolor paper.
  5. We recommend that you stretch or mount your canvas giclée before adding texture or embellishing
adding brushstrokes to a canvas print

As always, you can call and talk to one of our specialists to get more information. 800-777-1141. 

Kate Dardine has been helping artists and photographers market their work for over 26 years.  She is also a professional artist and our staff embellisher. You can see her paintings at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Time is on My Side...Or Not

Back in July of this year, I cut back my hours at Fine Print Imaging, where I’ve worked for the past 26 plus years.  I am now working Monday – Wednesday at Fine Print, while Thursdays and Fridays are reserved for my art business.
I think somewhere in my head I believed that I would have so much time to paint in these two days. And so much time to devote to marketing my work. And so much time to build relationships with other artists.  The first month I got absolutely nothing art related done on my “art days.”  In my defense, I just moved  into a new home, and that first month was spent trying to find stuff. 
So now, after a month of devoting those two days a week to art I am laughing at my naïve self!
“So much time” seems to fly by quickly, especially if I get caught up in the distractions of having my studio in my home.  Distractions like laundry, Facebook, yard work, Pinterest, etc. – all things I do to avoid staring at the blank canvas or the blank blog post.  Oddly, it was one distraction – Pinterest – which was an “aha” moment for me
A schedule.  Not the kind of schedule I would have made for myself, which would have been a “nose to the grindstone, get up at 6 AM and paint until noon…take ½ hour break…get back in studio and paint until 4” kind of schedule.  Which is not the way my creative mind works, but is the way my “inner boss” wants it.  No, this schedule accommodates shorter “work times” interspersed with thinking time and reading time and exercise time and meeting friends for lunch time.

So for now my Thursday/Friday schedule looks something like this:

7:00 AM – 8:30AM.  Walk dog.  Yoga/meditation. Breakfast.
8:30 – 9:00  Email correspondence
9:00 – 10:30  Painting
10:30 – 11:00 Laundry/etc.
11:00 – 12:30 Painting
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch/walk dog/ read, etc.
1:30 – 3:00 “Marketing” (writing my blog or newsletter, posting to Facebook, designing postcards, etc.
3:00 – 5:00 "Flex time" - errands, painting, marketing, as needed.

This may be subject to change – after all, one of the great things about working for oneself is the ability to be flexible. If I want to drive down to the Denver Art Museum one day, I can. If I want to meet someone for lunch I can.  But what the schedule does is give me a framework and helps keep me on track.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

If you want to see the “pin” that helped me organize my day, go to,  and look on my “other cool stuff” board. (Someday I’ll organize my Pinterest boards better. Probably the same time I get all my old photos out of boxes and put them in albums. Ha!)

How do you juggle your art business with your "day job", family, other interests? Do you have a schedule? 

Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 26 years. She is currently the newsletter editor and new customer liaison at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.Her website is

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Art Copy Matters

by Kate Dardine

Every day I field questions from prospective customers. The number one question from artists is: Can you print from my digital file?  The answer to that question is a definitive…maybe. Sometimes the artist will say, “It looks great on my monitor, so I’m sure it’ll print ok.”  The problem is, even though the image looks good viewed on your computer screen, doesn’t mean it will print well.  Why?  Because your monitor displays images at 72 ppi (pixels per inch) while printing resolution is 300 ppi. So if you have a file that is say, 15 x 30 at 72 ppi, once it is converted to printing resolution, 300 ppi, it becomes a 3.6 x 7.2.  Not exactly a large print!

If you use the best materials to create your artwork, and you are going to invest in getting prints of your work, why wouldn’t you want to start with the very best scan possible? Yes, it is an added expense. But unless you are an experienced photographer with good equipment, you will save money in the long run and gain peace of mind AND a high quality digital file that can be used for creating beautiful prints that do your painting justice.

If you don’t want to send your artwork, I recommend you find a local professional photographer who is knowledgeable about the art of art copy. At the very least, the photographer should have a studio set up with daylight balanced lights, a tripod and a DSLR camera. At Fine Print Imaging we use a Betterlight® Super 6K2 digital scan-back with a Calumet 4x5 view camera, equipped with a Rodenstock 240mm lens to take ultra-high resolution Direct Digital capture of your art work.
This camera, lens and scan-back system is set up under daylight balanced studio lighting (we use the North Light HID copy light system) and literally scans the art, capturing all the nuances of your original; the highlights, shadow details, brush strokes and even the texture of the canvas or paper is captured in stunning detail. A scan can take up to 15 minutes and produces up to a 300mb file.

If you are still sure you want to do it yourself, and your artwork is small, this You Tube video will give you tips on the best way to capture your artwork. Bear in mind that the resulting file will most likely need adjustment in a photo editing program such as Photoshop or Picasa to more accurately represent your original. Also, keep in mind that unless you have a newer, calibrated monitor, chances are what looks “correct” on your screen may look much different on our calibrated monitors. And, two last caveats: 1.) if you are shooting your own artwork, and it is larger than 11x14, you will most likely not be able to make quality prints at the original size and 2.) if your camera is an older digital point and shoot, the lens and sensor may not be of a high enough quality to create a sharp image.

Compare prices. In many cases, Fine Print’s art copy costs are less than what your local photographer charges – and for a significantly better file. And, with our premier art copy scans, you get a color-corrected proof on your choice of substrates to use for your portfolio or as a guide for future prints. Give us a call and let us know what you need. We can probably get you set up for much less than you’ve imagined.

Want more info on our art copy services? Visit our website, email us or give us a call (800.777.1141). We’re always happy to help!

 Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 26 years. She is currently the newsletter editor and new customer liaison at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.Her website is