Archive for April, 2006

First Prints: Less Art, More Poster

Friday, April 28th, 2006

universal image translates into more pleasing art prints

Boat on an Ocean - digital painting - 2000 - Dan Beck

Boat-on-an-Oceandigital painting – 2000 – Dan Beck

It seems to be a day for looking at older work. Such is what happens when new work is either not ready to share or not as good as one would hope.

The above piece continues on a theme of first prints. I was incredibly pleased with this piece and particularly what seems to be pretty universal appeal.

Between the rocking of the ocean, the complementary orange and blue colors, and the odd green in the sky almost reminiscent of the green flash sometimes present at the moment of sunset – this is a piece to get lost inside.

The first poster sized print I ever did was this piece – but it was not done on a poster quality paper and never had true color.

It was some years later that I started printing on watercolor paper, using pigment inks, and getting the quality color that I have been so apt to promote.

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Digital Painting that Works

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Fluid piece from past contrasts with overworked recent work

Mountain Sails - digital painting - circa 1998

Mountain Sailsdigital painting – Dan Beck circa 1998

Originally I was planning on sharing a recent digital painting – but I surprised myself by not being able to undo a mistake.  I write all the time about mistakes being mistakes only in relation to what follows – meaning – they can be ok and even a blessing if you keep working.

Well I did, but the color in the piece had gotten too muddy … and even though I worked it to a point that I liked it – when printed it just didn’t sing.

But above is a piece I did many years ago. It was quite fluid – not overworked – and as far as I am concerned quite pleasing.

My understanding of the medium was quite limited at the time, but I had learned how to overlap translucent color gradients and that was huge.

Anyway – I am offering the above piece as an example of what works … and chalking up my latest piece to not everything can be so good.

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Art Start Logo

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

representing creative, positive, community change

Artstart - logo

Art Start Logo

Salinas, California like lots of places is in need of a renaissance.  The image of the city is tarnished by imbalanced reporting of gang violence.

I have recently had the opportunity of working with a group of high schools students – quite creative, quite personable, quite intelligent, and quite determined to rebrand themselves and Salinas.

This group has promoted and curated a city wide high school art show – which is being held at the communtiy college within the city – Hartnell College. They have over and over proved themselves dedicated to the community.

The term artstart is used by many – but it is quite representative of the programs being offered by local non-profit Artistas Unidos – Artists United.

  • New artists can display work 
  • Local businesses become venues for displaying local art
  • Youth are mentored and encouraged to development art
  • New audiences are exposed to local art

As a vehicle for positive change, art has a great deal of power. The simple logo above is designed to represent this artistic, community movement.

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Digital Painting: CrossFields

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Inspiration for piece and creating art prints from it

CrossFields - digital painting 2005 - Dan Beck

CrossFieldsdigital painting – 2005 – Dan Beck

To get to the farm house which houses Outhouse Studios, one must pass a minimum of two treacherous curves. This is the scene from one of the approaches.

I focused on the section where three strips of different crops intersect with a good sized hill. It never seemed that far away driving by. In fact, I was surprised one day seeing a crew walking at the top of hill – just how small they looked and therefore far away.

The people in the top far right corner – they looked like worry dolls – so I didn’t get too involved in making them look like anything more.

From a printing standpoint, I actually printed this very large 32×40" – it worked but there was no significant improvement over what you could see in the 13×19" print. The original e-canvas did not warrant such an enlargement – and I will only offer this as an art print up to 24×30" for that reason.

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Painting for Large Art Prints

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Full size printing brings out dramatic changes – accurate printing takes practice

Material Mount View - digital painting and art prints

Material Mount Viewdigital painting – 2004 – Dan Beck

When I first found a printing company who could do the quality of printing I wanted on fine watercolor paper, this was the piece I chose first to print large.

When I created it, I used a template (e-canvas) I had created which had the maximum pixels I could create with – given the program with which I paint. It was intended to be printed large from its inception.

I chose the piece because of its texture. On the computer I can enlarge a piece and visualize a section at a time at the intended size – but not the whole piece. This particular work looked like it would change dramatically when enlarged.

Despite a number a printing trials, the first piece did not print with correct colors – part of Macintosh to Windows conversion and just the shear trickiness of it.

Many prints later, I am pleased to say, we have printing accurately really dialed in.

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Creating Without Expectations

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

experimenting with new program leads to new work and positive results

Nework 2 - digital painting - 2003

Nework 2Digital Painting 2003 – Dan Beck

In 2003 my old computer died. It wasn’t very impressive – barely could get online – I was fortunate to be able to use email at my (at the time) workplace.

When I replaced my computer, I was fortunate that I did not have to lose any of the paintings I had created – they were safe on another hard drive.

But I bought another Mac and the program which it had for painting was more sophisticated and had textures – which I have since found out I could customize as needed.

The above piece was one of the first pieces I did using texture. It still utilizes the overlapping translucent gradients, but added textured color. It was relatively simple, but more importantly it was created with little expectation or cares.

It flowed, it was fun, it was play, and it came out quite nice.

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  • Nework 2
    Art print options for digital painting -Nework 2
  • Appleworks Paint
    Basic look at the Appleworks Paint program I create with.

First Digital Art Print

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

A well received piece and learning how to print it well

Salinas Valley 1 - digitial painting - art prints

Salinas Valley 1digital painting – first art print

When I first got a high quality wide-format printer – this was my favorite piece. It was fairly recent at the time and it was what I wanted to see printed first.

I am sure you can imagine that type of excitement of a new printer and printing on watercolor paper for the first time.

The first print actually came out beautiful, but it wasn’t accurate. It was way too bold and bright – although part of its beauty.  Like most artists and creative people, I was looking for a larger element of control.

Through a great deal of controlled experimentation, the printing quality and color accuracy that Outhouse Studios can achieve is artistically perfect – I don’t think I could ask for better.

Salinas Valley 1 is a well received piece, and I have had the opportunity to refine the printing and also have it printed larger – 22×28 inch, matted and framed. The blue is even more incredible printed and the row crops in the Salinas valley hills have a great deal more depth.

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Rolling Colors | Accurate Art Prints

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Color alterations of a digital image are reminiscent of learning to print accurately

Rolling Fields - 2004 - Digital Painting & Art Prints
Rolling FieldsDigital Painting – 2004 – Dan Beck
This must be one of my favorites – I like it’s simplicity, I like the strong feeling of the how the fields roll here.

I am featuring it again because I stumbled upon this image in a county newspaper website – I knew they had published a couple of my pieces last summer – so I searched their site and found…

rolling fields of a different color

Rolling Fields of a Different Color

It perhaps explains their commentary. I guess it is some kind of RGB/CMYK confusion – but I have to confess I kind of like it.


Anyway – I show this because I think sometimes that printing is a lot like the above examples. I am sure there are a zillion articles on how to print accurately.All I can pass on is that if it isn’t right, you need to experiment…and make notes on the back of your images about the settings. Print small so you use less ink and try to be methodical and use common sense.I am on my third version of how to print – my first two were good – but the third is the best. The differences are subtle, but have to do with richness of color and feeling I can’t quite put my finger on.Technology and color profiles were supposed to make it easier – I’ve heard from many – it is not so. But I do know that at Outhouse Studios and the local printer I work with, we have the formula down:

Art prints always look as good as the digital painting … and 99% of the time, they look even better.

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Digital Art Cart

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Link to shopping cart yields miniature icon

Original Size Art Cart - digital art - Dan Beck

Original Size ArtCart – Digital Art

When I first built my website, the shopping cart stayed open as a separate window – so it didn’t seem necessary to have a link to it in any fashion. When someone bought – there it was.

Recently, I was on a site and noticed a little icon for a shopping cart – nothing special, but for some reason it made an impression. And when I checked how my shopping cart works now, I realized  I needed to have a link. Gone are the days of a separate window.

So I had a little fun creating this miniature cart and throwing some art inside. I actually took some miniature sections of some of my work and put it in the cart.  

But at the size on the website… Art Cart - for Art Print Innovationsno one would ever know.  But that is why I am including the original size here. Plus I think the size of the original work is interesting.

I have found that something too big – won’t look good small and something too small won’t look good big. Though there is incredible flexibility within the digital art medium, it is not without its limits.

And that is probably good.

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On Being Creative: #10

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

Fear is universal – the way through it, is not

Fielding - digital painting - Dan Beck

Fieldingdigital painting -2005

This is the last of of a ten part series. The entire ten points (without further explanation) are available as a "free download" at

Acknowledge fear and ignore it.  

  • Fear may come on many different levels –
  • fear of uncovering something you don’t want to see;
  • fear of having your work seen, heard or read and not received well;
  • fear of producing something really exceptional.

Who cares? – just do it – it will be fine.

Easier said than done, but then again the fear is almost always much worse than the task or event we are dreading – I know I am not the only one who has experienced this.

This is both the most amusing and perhaps least useful of the ten points. Fear is irrational – it is not logic or saying so that gets us beyond it. We find our way through it in our own way.

The above art piece was chosen because – I remember when I created it – I was a little afraid of ruining a good piece by adding figures – not a lot – but I remember being tentative at first.

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