This week I’ve been thinking about writing. Nothing too new there as I’m often thinking about writing because I write this blog and a few comic strips. Plus I’m always trying to come up with some new comic book concept that I’d actually have the time to draw but that never works out. No, this week I was thinking about writing in a different way than normal. This week I’m thinking about writing a book about my art. Why you ask? Because nobody else is going to so I may as well. I’ve got a couple of decades worth of stuff to present to the world so I’m going to have to organize it in some digestible form one of these days if I want people to look at it. In these post-paper publishing times it’s fairly easy to put a book out there as a digital file. Making money from such a book isn’t easy but at least it will be in a form that people could get their hands or electronic devices on. Distributing a physical book is a lot harder to do and costs a lot more money. This week I was thinking of writing though and not distribution.

One of the hardest things in writing a book about art is the pictures of the art. Y’see the picture of the thing is not the thing. That’s especially true of art. A lot of my painting depends upon surface. A lot of painting in general is like that. How the paint is put onto the canvas is important. You can see if the paint was put on fast or slow. You can see what areas are built up with paint and what areas are thin or flat. Those are choices an artist makes when making a painting. Those are also the things that are lost in a photo of a painting. A photo has no surface. Or at least its surface is always smooth. That’s why going to a museum to see an actual work of art rather than a picture of it is often a revelation. It’s rare that the real painting is not a whole lot better than the little picture of it. That’s why we have museums and that’s why some people like to buy original art. Even original comic book art that doesn’t have much surface and is in black and white but still has a lot more signs of the artist’s hand than the printed page is most often for more beautiful than the printed page.

The second part of photos of artwork where something gets lost is size. When you see a photo it’s rarely the same size as the art itself. It’s almost always much smaller. A six inch picture of a painting that is three feet tall is never going to have the same impact of seeing the original. Size matters. That’s always a problem. I think it’s even more of a problem as I have done paintings at a lot of different sizes. From three by four inches to three by four feet. How do I differentiate them? If they both look the same in a book then I’ve failed in my attempt to show you what my work is. To help with this problem I think I’m going to have to take advantage of the interactive nature of the digital format.

One of the big things that a digital book has over a physical book is a lesser restriction on the size of the page count. Sure you don’t want your book to get too big for someone to download but that’s a lot easier to deal with than the price of adding pages to a physical book. I can almost add as many pictures as I want to the digital book but a physical book would have very real space constrictions on how many pictures could be in it. That I don’t need as I’m searching for ways to make people experience my art in a way that’s closer to reality. Not to mention that printing a real book, especially in color, is very expensive. Color costs nothing extra for a digital book. It all comes down to the fact that I can add more photos to a digital book and that’ll help me out.

On my website I’ve already used the technique of zooming in on the detail of a painting. You can see a piece of the work at actual size where the brush strokes and textures are clearer. I think I’ll use that technique again. I was messing around a bit with the new version of Apple’s iBook Author and it seems pretty easy to that do with that program. Preparing all the photos is what takes forever. That and the writing.

I have some ideas for putting the paintings in size context too because that’s going to be a big problem. Lately I’ve been doing some 20×28 inch black and white drawings. Their size is an important part of their impact. But when seen on a computer screen they’re the same small size as the screen and have the same impact as a 11×17 inch drawing. That’s trouble. I’m toying with the idea of putting some of my paintings into a real world contexts to better show them as objects as well as images.

I already show some of my larger paintings on my website sitting on my easel. I keep the easel and background in there so viewers can get a sense of the scale of the paintings. I think it looks okay that way but I want to take the painting off the easel and put them out in the world. Only I don’t quite know what that means just yet. I think I might take a couple of painting and photograph them in unusual places for paintings. It the streets, in a car, in the woods, up a tree, and I’m not really sure where. It’s all just an idea right now.

It’s all just ideas right now.