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Apparently I’m selling animals (I’m not)

Cow in a party hat, cow card for Christmas, blank cow card for Xmas, festive funny cow card

Are we amooosed?

 

I spend a lot of time studying and sketching animals and mostly my drawings stay in my sketchbook, but I’ve been doing something a bit different…..

I recently followed a 5 week online illustration course (though it took me three times longer due to family issues) and I learned some Photoshop tools and tricks. I love painting, so I was a bit reluctant to embrace digital art, as it feels like “cheating” but I wanted to learn a bit more about Photoshop, and I was reassured that the course would use my painting and drawing skills. The image shown on the Christmas card above is one of my first Photoshop creations – apart from the Christmas hat, all of it is “actual” art work that I’ve then scanned into my computer and manipulated to create an image.

I don’t think it’ll replace my “proper” painting, which feels much more natural to me, but what do you think? Feel free to reply with your comments, do you want to see more animals in this style?

Facebook have decided not to let me list this card in my Facebook shop as they “don’t approve of the sale of animals”!?! I didn’t think it was THAT realistic, so I’ve appealed, telling them that I’m not amooosed and what heifer were they thinking?

 

funny cow Xmas card, blank cow Christmas card, colourful cow card

Christmas card showing a cow, funny cow Christmas card, blank cow Xmas card

In the meantime, it’s available here, along with 2 other cow in a party hat cards.

 

 

 

 

Would you like to join my mailing list to get exclusive follower offers and discounts? I send occasional newsletters and discounts, and you can unsubscribe at any time. I hate spam, and I do not share your details with anyone.  Sign up here

 

 

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Festivals, Cattle and Art

British White cattle, reference for Caroline Skinner's art projects

Each summer I volunteer as a festival steward for Oxfam at several music festivals in the UK. If you have the time to help out and you enjoy festival life, I highly recommend it.

Last month I went to Shambala Festival, held each year in a “secret” Northants location. It’s a music festival that also includes cinema, talks, workshops in various crafts  and permaculture, and a wellbeing area with yoga, massages etc. Recycling and clearing the site afterwards are actively encouraged and one-use plastic bottles are not sold on site. 

Also, for the last few years, all food offered by festival caterers is vegetarian or vegan, with a huge range of great food on offer. The cattle that usually live on the field where we were camping may have been relieved about the lack of meat on site!

These cows are a herd of British White cattle, one of the oldest cattle breeds in England, used mainly for beef, with some milk production. This particular herd of handsome cattle dates back to the 18th century, so that is quite some pedigree!  They were in a nearby barn during the festival, so as an animal artist, I naturally spent some time sketching and photographing them for future art projects. 

Here are a few of my sketches (paintings to follow!): 

              

 

If you would like news of my animal art and exhibitions, wildlife and animal stories, plus special offers for my followers, sign up here to receive occasional newsletters. I promise not to bombard you with emails, I never share your details, and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

You can see original paintings and giclee prints of some of my colourful farm animal art here.

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Art and Random Acts of Kindness

Sooty, childhood memories, puppet, bears, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018
Last Friday I went to London to see the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. I had seen some snippets on television and wanted to see how Grayson Perry had curated it. It was only my second visit to this famous art show, the last being about 10 years ago, and before I started selling my own art…
I nearly didn’t go that day. I’m not comfortable in really hot weather, and public transport isn’t a joy in the heat of summer. I’m so glad I made the effort to get there.

RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS

As I stood in the ticket queue, a woman approached me and asked if I was waiting to buy a ticket. I thought she wanted to know if she was in the right place, but she offered me a ticket. Her husband had changed his mind about the visit, so her family had decided to give their spare ticket away. They wanted to give it to someone who was by themself and looked like they might enjoy it!
I was going to pay by card and offered my kind benefactor some cash but she wouldn’t hear of it, so paying it forward is the name of the game (or maybe backwards, as I’ve recently run an art competition, and reunited someone with their belongings whilst stewarding as an Oxfam festival volunteer..).
If by some chance you recognise yourself as the kind person who gave me a free ticket, thank you so much for your random act of kindness!! I spent a couple of hours there and I loved the exhibition on several levels:
bear art, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018, red rug

– There was some great art, and some that made me laugh, or think, or both!

Queen Elizabeth II, Great Britain, British art, Queen in art exhibition, RA Summer Exhibition 2018

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018, Una Stubbs
– I enjoyed trying to spot artwork by Royal Academy members and celebrities (this one is by Una Stubbs;
art at Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018, colourful art, art for the people
– My husband was at home (on crutches so he couldn’t come). I sent him a dozen or so photos of various works with quiz questions to entertain him e.g. Who painted this? How much is the price tag? What materials were used here?
– The exhibition made me reconsider my own art prices – I’m not charging enough for some of my wildlife and animal paintings! I won’t be increasing any prices just yet, as I need to do some recalculations first. Check out my shop if you’d like to take advantage of existing prices on my colourful and expressive wildlife paintings.
I may even enter some of my own work for the RA Summer Exhibition next year, so watch this space…..
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Newfoundland Dogs Water Rescue

Newfoundland dogs, water rescue, lake display, Newfies

Earlier this month I went to the Gatton Country Fair near my Surrey home where there was a Newfoundland dog water rescue team doing displays in one of the lakes with their owners.

Newfoundland dogs, water rescue, newfieThese working dogs love being in the water, and are incredibly strong, and they did various mock rescues. These included jumping after their owners from an inflatable boat and towing up to 5 people ashore at once, and even towing the boat itself, complete with passengers. 

 

 

 

I’ve been along to see them several times now, and I’m usually with other people, but this time I was earlier than my family and I had my sketchbook with me. I sat alongside the resting dogs in the glade for a short time during their first display and did a couple of quick sketches of these gorgeous dogs.

Newfoundland dogs quick sketches, dog drawingsNewfoundland dogs quick sketches, dog drawings

Newfoundland dog quick sketches

 

 

By the time the dogs were doing their second display of the day my step-daughters had arrived, along with my 23-month old grandson, who absolutely loves animals. When the enormous Newfoundland dogs were pointed out to him, he exclaimed “a bear!” and  kept repeating it, refusing to believe they were dogs, even when he heard one of them bark!  One of the friendly owners took my grandson and his mother to meet one of the dogs (bears!) under the trees, which was really lovely of him.

If you haven’t seen these amazing dogs in action, you can find out more about the Newfs in Action team and the funds they raise for various charities here – look out for their rescue dog displays across the UK.

Newfoundland dog, water rescue dog, Newfie

 

The dogs were great, but I can’t wait to show my grandson a real bear!

 

 

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How Much Do Artists Earn?

British wildlife paintings, colourful animal art, deep box canvas wildife wall art

OPEN STUDIOS

I’ve recently finished exhibiting during the 2018 Surrey Artists’ Open Studios (SAOS) at my art studio in Merstham, Surrey. In reality, many artists don’t have a grand studio, as you’ll know if you visited some of us.  I’m fortunate to have my own small art room at home. During Open Studios half of my dining room and the conservatory also get converted to gallery space. Weather permitting, I like to paint colourful animal paintings on my easel in the garden.

It’s always lovely to meet people who come to see what I’ve been painting – for some, they will have picked me out of the SAOS brochure and made a special trip, perhaps visiting other studios in Surrey during the day as well. There are always local people who notice my bright orange sign and pop in to see what it’s all about, and family and friends who come along to support my one-person art business.

BUSINESS OR HOBBY?

Yes, I use the term art business – whilst I love what I do, it is becoming my main source of income. I love that my art is taking over from my day job, which is slowly fading into the background. People are often surprised by this, perhaps believing the starving artist myth!

I have been asked numerous times how long a painting takes (it depends on the size and complexity, but the short answer is 40 years of painting and drawing so far!), or whether I can make a living by painting. Painting is only a small part of the equation for an artist – we also need to develop skills in marketing, social media posts, planning displays for shows and exhibitions and setting them up, talking to customers, building online shops, updating websites, buying supplies and developing products, processing sales, negotiating commissions, keeping accounts etc . It’s not for the faint-hearted!

This year I tried some new things during SAOS – firstly donations to the International Fund for Animal Welfare from my sales. I also ran a contest to win a print of an animal you’ve suggested (once I’ve painted it!). I haven’t drawn the winner yet, but I will do so shortly when I get back to painting. Another aspect of being a self-employed artist is that there isn’t anyone else to run your business when there are problems (though on the plus side, I never have to ask anyone for time off either).

FAMILY CRISIS

Some of you may be aware that I closed my Open Studio unexpectedly on Friday 15th June. My apologies if you tried to visit me and were unable to return the following day. Do get in touch if you are interested in a particular artwork or look at my website or online shop. I did put out social media messages and leave a note on the door. Unfortunately we had an urgent call to visit my Mother-in-Law who had been seriously ill in hospital for some time, and who sadly passed away on Tuesday this week. 

Normal business will be resumed shortly, and I will be in touch with commission customers to discuss slightly extending my target dates. Thank you for your understanding.

Oh and to answer the question, how much do artists earn? Mostly more than the paper boy and less than the top UK business earners, just like most of you. But feel free to buy my colourful animal art while it’s still affordable! 

Stay in touch and get all my art news, animal stories and special offers just for my followers by signing up here 

 

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Where to See Art in Surrey

Surrey Artists' Open Studios, animal art, wildlife art, Merstham art studio

The short answer is : everywhere!

There are some very talented artists in Surrey and 273 of them are taking part in the Surrey Artists’ Open Studios (SAOS) between 2nd and 17th June 2018. I will be amongst them for the 2nd year running, opening my Merstham art studio on selected dates (listed on my website).

If you are not familiar with SAOS, the idea is that artists in Surrey open their doors to show their art processes and work areas, and discuss their work with anyone who is interested, making the art experience more personal and informal than your average art gallery. Some studios are running workshops, demonstrations or special offers during their opening hours. Entry is free, and there are some great art trails to follow, or you can collect a brochure from libraries across Surrey and pick out your favourite subjects, media or artists.  Whether you love 3D art such as ceramics, jewellery and sculpture, or you would rather see photography, drawings, or paintings  of landscapes, animals or abstract art in oils, acrylic or watercolour, you will find it all in Surrey.

During SAOS in 2017 really enjoyed meeting some great people and getting direct feedback about my wildlife and animal art, but some lessons have been learnt for this year – I’ll make sure I have enough stock of my most popular prints and cards in advance, and I won’t be opening my studio on the day that the London to Brighton cycle ride goes past my front door as no-one can get here!

Some photos from my Merstham studio during SAOS 2017:

 

 What can you expect if you visit my Merstham art studio on my open days?  I will be demonstrating my colourful acrylic painting style, hopefully in the garden (weather permitting). There will be new wildlife and animal paintings on display,  and you can see a display of how I develop my paintings and enjoy free refreshments.  Entry is free, and original artworks, giclee prints and cards will be on sale from £2.50 to £300. I like to support wildlife conservation projects, so on the launch day,  Saturday 2nd June 2018 I will be donating 20% of all wildlife art sales to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (10% on all other open dates).

Here are a few paintings from my new British Wildlife painting collection:

If you’re looking for something to do in Merstham this June, why not visit the All Saints Summer Fair on 10th June 2018 from 11.30am to 3pm, and pop into my art studio as well – look out for the large orange sign outside my house at 90 Nutfield Road, Merstham RH1 3HA. 

All of my opening dates and hours can be found on my website, with details of all of the Surrey Open Studios on the SAOS website, or you can pick up a brochure at Surrey libraries (my studio is number 40 on page 22).

If you visit 4 or more art studios and vote for your favourite artist you could win a £150 voucher to spend on SAOS artwork. Go and look at some art in Surrey this June!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When is an Anteater not an Anteater?

FAKING IT

There has been a wildlife photography story in the news recently that you may have seen. Someone was disqualified from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition because he faked a scene using a stuffed anteater. The photo was a winning entry, but the photographer was found out when he couldn’t provide photos taken either side of the winning one. He claimed not to have any as the animal had moved away and his camera settings didn’t allow him to take other photos. Hmm. Experts looked more closely and agreed that the photo had been faked. Apparently he’s still contesting the decision, but it doesn’t look like he’ll prove his case.

Removing a few shadows with a digital computer programme is one thing, but this is in a different league……

Anyone who has ever taken wildlife photographs will know that you end up with more missed/blurred shots than useable ones – as an animal artist, these are usually the ones I find most interesting when I’m taking photographs at conservation parks. That’s just as well as it’s not always easy to get the perfect photo. I always sketch the animals too as reference material for my wildlife paintings, and although I love it, it is a challenge when they won’t stand still!

ORIGIN OF THE STUFFED ANTEATER

There could be a lengthy debate elsewhere on whether the anteater taxidermy specimen was recently obtained, how the animal died, or whether it was a historical specimen, possibly obtained in what could be termed less enlightened times. All of these issues aside, the rules for this wildlife photography contest stated that “entries must not deceive the viewer or attempt to misrepresent the reality of nature.”

anteater art, anteater gift
I’m glad I don’t have to follow these rules (unless I enter an art competition with similar terms) – I rarely paint wildlife in their natural colours, as you can see from my anteater painting!

You can see the full news story and the photo here. The Anteater photo in the heading of this blog is not connected with the competition.

Have you signed up to my Newsletter? – I send out occasional special offers just for my followers and you can keep up to date with my art news.

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British Wildlife in Surrey

hedgehog, British Wildlife Centre, animal

Is this the biggest hedgehog you’ll ever see? It stands at the entrance to the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield, Surrey, which you can visit at weekends and during school holidays. 

My 20 month-old grandson is already mad about animals, and recently came with us dressed as a character from one of his favourite stories – a Gruffalo! Those who know the story will not be surprised that he could recognise the owls before anyone pointed them out! There is also a huge barn with mice runs that cross overhead within the building. Sadly it was too cold when we visited for the mice to be running around, but we did spot a few, and he was very excited to see another character from the story!

Scottish wildcat, wildlife, catThe frequent keeper talks are informative and interesting, and give you the chance to get a close-up view of animals such as otters that come out of the water onto the bank at feeding time, and Scottish wild cats that might otherwise remain hidden from view. The wild cats might look a bit like our domesticated cats, but they really don’t like people. 


otter, British wildlife, mammal, animalThere is nothing like a child’s excitement at seeing wild animals for the first time to remind me why I support wildlife conservation charities, and I really hope that my grandchildren will still be able to experience this when they are my age…

 

 

The staff at the British Wildlife Centre are very keen on educating children so that they care about our wildlife, and they do an excellent job in helping them to develop a life-long interest in animals through the keeper talks, various information boards around the site, and hosting school trips. Adults are welcome too, so if you live near enough, or you’re visiting the area, do go and support them.

And if you can take a small child with you, even better!


resting fox, British wildlife art, animal paintingI’m currently painting a new British Wildlife collection, which will be launched at my next exhibition in Surrey at the end of May 2018. Before the official launch of these new original paintings, prints and cards,  I will be announcing a special offer just for my followers  – if you would like to be included, please join my mailing list here.

 

Hare, British Wildlife Collection, launch May 2018 A sneak peek at just 2 of the paintings- the full British Wildlife collection will be revealed in the latter part of May 2018. Watch your inbox in May for news of an exclusive special offer, only available to my followers…

Interested in finding out more?  Sign up here

 

 

 

 

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Search Online and Plant Trees for Our Future

Tree, Reigate Hill, Surrey countryside, nature

Don’t you love it when you find something great by accident? I was looking at my website statistics this morning (I know, not everyone loves numbers!) and discovered that people were finding me through www.ecosia.org

Never heard of it? Neither had I, but if you love wildlife you need to use it!

Ecosia is a search engine that uses most of its advertising revenue to plant trees through suitable projects all over the world, helping to reduce the effects of deforestation and animal habitat loss. They plant nearly 2 million trees each month through tree planting projects in places such as Indonesia, Tanzania, Ghana, Brazil and Madagascar!

If you search using Ecosia, but don’t click on any ads, it still helps with the tree planting projects – the more active users the site has, the more advertisers it attracts!

We all need trees in all their different forms  – they release oxygen into the air; birds and squirrels nest in them; orangutans and sloths live in them and use them to travel; giraffes eat their leaves; insects use them for shelter; and animals and humans eat their berries and fruits. We also use them for wood, but we need to replace them in a sustainable way (and not with palm plantations, but that’s for another day)…..  I’m sure you can think of more reasons that we should all love trees and support these tree planting projects…

Baby Black Bear, Canadian wildlife, nature

Here’s another reason – I watched this cute baby black bear in Canada, who had climbed into a tree to escape danger, or maybe just to play up there….

 

 

How many trees will you plant today?

 

Sign up to my newsletter for more articles about wildlife and animal welfare, plus updates on my new animal art collections.

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Animals in Spring – beautiful wildlife photos

l couldn’t resist sharing the beautiful wildlife photos on this blog – enjoy!

Animals Sniffing Flowers Is The Cutest Thing Ever Flowers have the most alluring smell, and not only to the impressionable bees. We have made a list of photos that show animals enjoying a whiff or two from a petal or bloom. Kittens, nature’s cuddliest critters, look even better when they’re enjoying the sweet scents of […]

via Animals Sniffing Flowers Is The Cutest Thing Ever — Flow Art Station

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Sudan and Saving Remaining Wildlife

SAD NEWS

I was driving earlier today when I heard on the radio that Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, had died. It was one of those ‘where were you when you heard?’ moments…

Like many people, I was saddened that he had died, though as he was elderly and had been deteriorating for some time, perhaps it wasn’t surprising that in the end it was kinder to let him go.

Sudan was the last male Northern White Rhino, and there are now only two remaining females, his daughter and grand-daughter. Scientists have taken some of Sudan’s genetic material and the experts think there may still be some slim chance for the Northern White Rhino in the future.

EXTINCTION IN OUR LIFETIME?

In the meantime, there are other species that could also find themselves on the brink of extinction in our lifetime. I dread having to explain to my young Grandson why we didn’t do more to prevent poaching and habitat destruction to protect tigers, snow leopards, mountain gorillas, giant pandas, Java rhinos and many more species. They include the cute ones that we romanticise and many smaller, unseen insects, reptiles and fish in vulnerable environments across the world.

It is too easy to be paralysed by the enormity of the problem. Fortunately there are brilliant organisations who have experienced teams tackling various aspects of the puzzle. From political problems that lead to habitat loss, wildlife trafficking, and education to animal welfare issues, there is so much to be achieved. We can help.

Some of you may know that I currently donate 10% of the price of wildlife art and prints bought from my website to the International Fund for Animal Welfare

For 3 days only, until midnight on Friday 22nd March 2018, I will TRIPLE this offer and donate 30% of ALL art sales on my art website AND my Etsy shop to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (excluding postage).

No discount codes required, I’m keeping this simple. Just buy as normal and I will confirm how much of your purchase price has been donated.

Great Art for a Great Cause – go ahead and treat yourselves today and help to give a tomorrow to wildlife.

Go to www.carolineskinnerart.co.uk

or www.carolineskinnerart.etsy.com

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Instagram Challenge #marchmeetthemaker 2018

marchmeetthemaker, creative challenge, Instagram

 

 

I’m joining in with Joanne Hawker’s third #marchmeetthemaker challenge on Instagram throughout this month.

The idea behind the challenge is for creative people to reveal a bit about themselves and their art processes by posting a different image each day that matches the daily theme.

I took part in this project last year, and it can be surprisingly difficult to post every day when you are busy. I’m keeping up at the moment (it’s only Day 2!) but I may need to play catch up at times. You can see my entries on my Instagram page – please feel free to comment on my posts, and if you are not already following me, please do!

Take some time to have a look at other #marchmeetthemaker posts too and comment on the creators’ posts – there is some great talent out there!

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How to Find an Elephant Painting

purple and yellow elephant, acrylic elephant on canvas

Have you ever tried to find a painting of an elephant online?

Search engines don’t always give you what you think they will…. Try searching for “elephant artist” – would you expect a list of artists who paint elephants?

This search term is just as likely to find artists who happen to be elephants. You will see numerous photos and videos of elephants with a paintbrush in their mouths. Tourists buy their abstract paintings almost before the paint dries. In Thailand, you can visit an art gallery that only sells paintings by elephants – they use the tagline “Help Support these Endangered Elephants.”

There may be an obscure study somewhere that shows an elephant drawing in the mud with a stick, but there can be no doubt that elephants do not routinely find paint, brushes and easels in their natural habitat.

Reports of the cruelty inflicted on elephants to get them to perform these painting tricks can readily be found online. I won’t give links here as the photographs and descriptions are deeply disturbing. Tourists are being misled into supporting these cruel practices in the name of conservation.

If you are interested in wildlife conservation projects, consider supporting the International Fund for Animal Welfare instead. They are involved in some great initiatives to help elephants, including anti-poaching projects. They also have a much more constructive attitude to art and elephants. For instance, in 2017 they combined a children’s art contest and education about elephants.

If you’re looking for elephant paintings online, try some alternative searches e.g. paintings of elephants, acrylic elephant paintings, elephant wall art etc.

Have you already signed up for my newsletters? Please click here to get more wildlife conservation stories and exclusive follower discounts on my animal art.

 

 

Buy wildlife art from this website and I will donate 10% of the art price to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  IFAW protects wildlife through their valuable conservation projects.

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Pet Portrait Prize Draw

yorkshire terrier pet portrait, acrylic pet painting

I recently ran a free prize draw for someone to win a unique pet portrait. The prize was an original acrylic painting of one of their lovely pets, worth £150. I thought it would be a great way for one of my followers to start 2018!

The prize draw closed on 31st December 2017 and a couple of days later I randomly drew a name out of the metaphorical hat (it was a box) from the hundreds who had entered.  I was very nervous! I had no idea what type of pet they might have, where they lived, or how demanding they might be… 

I needn’t have worried, Jessica the prize winner, was absolutely lovely. She sent me lots of photos and details of the character of her gorgeous Yorkshire Terrier, Maggie. We agreed on a pose for the painting, and I then sent her some photos over the next few weeks so she could see how her painting was progressing.

Here are some of the work in progress photos:

 

pet portrait, prize winner, yorkshire terrier

 

 

Jessica was thrilled with the finished painting and she said: ” Thank you so much for sending our amazing painting. We love it!!”

 

 

 

 

 

New pet portrait commissions now include a 10% donation to the RSPCA at no additional cost to you. When you commission a pet portrait from me, you support animals who aren’t as lucky as your favourite pet.

Go to my Pet Portrait page for further details, and follow my art page on Facebook

 

 

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What is a Giclée Print?

pigment inks, lightfast inks, giclee prints

FINE ART OR GICLEE PRINTS

Many fine art prints are sold as giclée prints, but what does this mean?

The word Giclée (“zhee-clay”), is derived from the French verb gicler meaning “to squirt or spray.”

Giclée is a term used to describe a fine art printing process, involving particular types of ink and paper to produce a high quality print of original artwork. Let’s look at the different types of ink and paper.

Inks

The actual printing machines used differ significantly from a standard office inkjet or digital printer.

pigment inks, lightfast inks, giclee prints
Pigment Inks

A professional fine art printer uses at least 8 different coloured pigment ink cartridges which are fade resistant to give superior quality printing. My own printer combines 10 separate pigment inks in the printing process. It’s also more than twice the size of my standard office printer, and it weighs 25 kg!  Some printers use remanufactured inks, but there are various debates about whether the quality is good enough.  I avoid all this by using only original Canon print cartridges to give the best results for years to come.

 

Paper

fine art paper, giclee print, archival quality paper
Fine Art Paper

Each image is printed onto high quality heavy archival paper – this is museum quality printing paper and there are various types and textures available. I’ve experimented with different types of paper to find one that suits my animal art perfectly, and I use a smooth 315g fine art printing paper for my giclée prints. By comparison, most printer/photocopier paper is typically only 80g.

 

Results

The combination of pigment based inks with high quality archival paper produces Giclée prints with superior archival quality, light fastness and stability. Simply put, they should last a long time! It is often claimed that Giclée prints will not fade for 100 years – however, as with any art, it is advisable to avoid exposure to strong light for extended periods of time as sunlight will inevitably eventually cause some fading.

Buying a print of someone’s artwork can be a great affordable way to own some art. You love the original painting or drawing, but the price is out of your reach or the original has already been sold. If you see that prints are being sold as giclée prints, ask the artist how they are produced. They should be happy to explain it to you.

Feel free to add your comments about giclée prints below.

 

If you’ve enjoyed this blog article, please join my mailing list to get occasional news about my animal art, wildife stories, and special offers for my followers.

 

 

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How to get started as an animal artist

Dad's cat, childhood drawing, early sketches

ART INFLUENCES

Artists often get asked how they started painting and about their art influences. This seems like a good place to start my new art blog. My earliest influences were very close to home – I’ll talk about my favourite artists another time.

 

Dad's cat, childhood drawing, early sketches
Dad’s cat drawing

I’ve drawn and painted for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad drawing a cat over and over for me and getting me to copy it. It was a great game, and Dad’s cat looked something like this:

 

Dad never claimed to be an artist, and I knew better than to ask about the missing legs!  But I learned to love drawing and fortunately we always had pets I could observe, so in time I learned about those missing legs …

 

IN MY BLOOD?

While I was growing up, my Mum told me that I was like her father who had been a sign writer. He was apparently a really good artist. Naturally I wanted to see his work, but sadly, he died before I was born. All of his artwork had been destroyed along with any photos, so I’ve never seen any of it. Encouraging and maddening at the same time! My young brain struggled to process these mixed messages about the value of art, and although I got a decent Art “O” Level,  I dropped formal art studies for more academic subjects. I spent most of my working life doing “proper” work, but art was in my blood so I kept coming back to it…

 

tabby cat painting, cat art, cat pet portrait, cat print
Tabby Cat

So, to get started as an animal artist, get some encouragement from your family, add in some mixed messages and a house full of pets, do other things for a living for 30+ years, but keep painting and drawing,  et voilà!

 

Oh and I hope you agree that my cat paintings have improved!

 

 

What are your earliest memories of painting or drawing? Did you have any art influences? Feel free to comment below: