Most of the paintings I create are called classic representational or realism art and on occasion I also create contemporary genres. I paint on location, sketch from reference photos or simply freehand draw the image foundation. Then I paint from the deepest color layer outward. Oil paint doesn’t dry immediately hence, allowing time to adjust, mix and layer the finished product. Oil paintings take months to completely dry and “ripen” in color. The oil paint will slightly change hues over time and the texture may patina and crackle with age. Think of an oil painting like a good wine, as it ages it just gets better.
• About the Paints:
The original paintings are created using premium professional grade oil paints with brands ranging from Michael Harding medieval reproduction paints to the professional series Winston & Newton’s.
• About the Surface:
I paint on cotton stretched canvas or linen over wood frames. I only use premium canvas weaves with a specific texture of gesso primer applique for my brush style by genre. I may also use canvas hardboard, wood, and wood panels. All surfaces are primed with gesso or a similar product such as Fredrix Oil Priming Titanium Pigment depending on surface. The style and custom sizes direct the surface choice.
• About the Mediums:
I utilize a variety of mediums such as cold pressed linseed oil. I seldom use dryers because they may cause exaggerated crackling in the paint due
to an accelerated drying time. I use mediums to extend drying time, increase smoothness, and give the paint greater flexibility.
• About the Varnish:
My choice in varnish depends on size of the piece and effect I wish to achieve whether it is matte or gloss. This varies from aerosol to brush on varnish to protect the artwork and to provide a barrier to facilitate cleaning.
• About the Brushes:
I use a very wide range of brushes from the U.S. as well as those I've picked up in other countries. My tools can range from a medium round brush to a sewing needle for very small details.
• About the Packaging:
Anytime you wrap oil paintings you will first want to wrap a layer of glassine, wax or parchment paper over the painted on side of the canvas. I use only archival safe tapes (acid-free) that may come in contact with the canvas. After this, layers of tissue, packaging paper and insulation can safely be added.
Protecting your Fine Art:
• Physical Protection:
Fine art paintings should be displayed or stored in climate-controlled conditions. High humidity could produce molds and mildew buildup. Air pollution such as from tobacco smoke, fireplace soot can also adversely affect the paintings. Do not spray insecticides or other aerosols onto the canvas. Monitor for insect infestations and treat immediately. Non-chemical feather dusters are effective in keeping build-up off. These paintings use premium oil paints and are varnished therefore it is safe to gently wipe them with a mildly damp cloth to remove dust buildup. Do not use soaps. Be sure to have good ventilation for drying them after wiping. Lastly, oil paintings are organic and will age ungracefully when exposed to long periods of direct sunlight just like your skin will. Depending on the value of your artwork you may need to adjust your personal protection insurance policy to include riders for your fine art collection.
• Fraud Protection:
I have created a standardization process to help with the validation of my artwork for appraisals, assessments and resale. All of my art dating from 2015 use these standards. I have a lot of art out in the world that pre-dates this process. You can always contact me for verification when purchasing my art through other sellers.
I have been trained to paint in many styles. I became a professional artist upon earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Ohio State University. There I studied, created and was critiqued by some of our Nation’s best academic liberal arts instructors and mentors. The genres and mediums I have created throughout my life are all different depending on the age, intent, location, and degree of completion it left my hands. For example, I made plenty of sketches in the sands of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in my down time, but they completely left my possession as incoming enemy fire hit our location. That work could resurface someday. I've had the pleasure of returning to Iraq many times since then over the following 3 decades, but just never yet come back across them.
The 2015 standardization protocol:
1. Logo is stamped in archival ink on the back of all original canvas.
3. Artwork has the signature: L. Nicholas Smith.
4. The Collection Symbol is drawn onto the original painting near the copyright signature.
5. A Certificate of Authenticity is created for each original. This contains a photo of the painting, title, size, medium, and embossed with the Seal of the Collection the painting belongs to. Only 1 CoA will be issued for the painting. If it is lost, I will re-issue a 2nd edition certificate of authenticity following validation of the original painting in-person only.
6. A Bill of Sale is also issued with every sold original. It contains the purchase price and buyer name. I will only re-issue 2nd editions of the Bill of Sale to the original buyer.
7. If a painting is donated, a certificate of release to the organization will accompany the certificate of authenticity stating the intended purpose of the artwork.
The Collections: I categorize my paintings by genre and style. I have personally designed a Collection Seal to showcase each collection. The center of each seal has a symbol. The Collection symbol will match the symbol painted onto the original art, which can be found by my signature. I also have embossers with each Collection Seal that are used with the documentation.
Display and Illumination: The time-tested frame choice over the centuries for realism paintings has always been gold paint/ patina gold- leaf on wood frames, but naturally personal style and period trends also inject themselves into the display options. Some of the paintings are gallery wrapped, meaning they are thick enough to display without a frame or custom thick frames can be made. The tensile strength of the hanging wire should always be considered for the overall weight of the painting and frame. A good quality frame helps stabilize your art as well as enrich its display. Frame liners and molding bevels that can be added to further extenuate the painting; kind of like how different mat options are used for prints. Illumination also drastically affects the display. Incandescent and halogen lights highlight warm tones; LED lights highlight the cool colors. If using a picture light pay attention to the spectrum width and depth that the light gives out to make sure it’s enough to light your entire painting.
Fine Art Prints ~
Knowledge about prints and printmaking can make collecting them just as fun as collecting the original paintings. Actually, there are a whole set of specifics that should be known about print collecting to validate, verify, and value these works of art too.
Art collectors are a group unto their own. I sincerely try to satisfy their innate attention-to-detail state of existence. My wife falls into this category, so I know what I’m dealing with. For the rest of us, this is just extra information to accompany my art.
Here are the authenticity measures to look for in my Fine Art Prints:
Match the original. The same image details on the print that can be found in the original painting including the copyright signature, and collection symbol.
Correct Portfolio Collection. Each painting belongs to a collection portfolio and each collection has an assigned symbol. The collection symbol is drawn by the painting copyright signature and also seen in the middle of the corresponding collection seal/emblem.
Numbering. Limited Edition Numbered Prints have 3 sets of numbers not 2, and are separated by a forward slash. For example, a print numbered A/B/C means A is the print number; B is the total amount printed and C is the print edition or special commission identifier. Artist Proofs will have their number then forward slash AP. Pending availability, I will release prints out of order so, if you are looking for your lucky number or like knowing you have the first or last in the edition just ask if I have it. I will NOT issue more than one numbered print with the same numbers, nor will I reproduce editions and rename them as the first edition. There is a master inventory record locked in a safe for my estate to manage in the future. In the digital age, gone is the need to number in order off a single manual print press. Today, once a digital image file is proofed, I need only inspect the print quality before issuing an edition number onto it. All prints come back to my studio from the reproduction company before I sell them. Fine art reproduction studios will run the same order on multiple professional grade electric printers, which is most efficient for them.
Signature. The prints have the original painting signature on the image, but I also personally sign in acid-free ink any paper print leaving my studio.
Embossing. Each collection seal will also be embossed directly into the paper.
Logo stamp. All prints leaving my studio will have my logo stamp on the back. The circular logo stamp shadows the one printed on this paper stating L. Nicholas Smith Fine Art in archival ink.
Paper. Since 2017, I am using archival Hahnemühle William Turner paper or Hahnemühle Bamboo paper. Earlier issued artwork may be on different types of archival acid-free paper. Contacting the Hahnemuhle Company would be the best verification of the paper if I cannot be reached. They have been milling paper recipes in Germany for over 420 years and I anticipate them being around longer than I will be.
Giclée. All prints are made using giclée imprinting standards.
How these fine art prints created:
Digital images are taken with a Nikon 3200 camera of the original paintings outdoors in natural sunlight directly off an easel mount. The images are loaded into an IMac desktop computer, which has its monitor color calibrated monthly using a Spyder 5 monitor calibration device.
From there, the images are processed using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 with the original painting sitting right next to the computer to maximize digital exactness to the original. Soft proofing is checked against the ICC gamut profiles of the exact brand and texture of paper the image will be printed on. All .jpeg files are saved with 300dpi pixilation and corresponding aspect size ratios.
This is a modern form of printmaking. It allows for the largest range of color gamut setting options and color precision. Think of how your home color printer works, it sprays 3 colors of blended ink onto your thin paper. Now dramatically expand those color options, upgrade to professional inks, and individually adjust the spray pressure to reflect intensity and absorption for each type of paper and that's how professionally imprinted giclée fine art prints are created. My prints are currently imprinted at a fine art pro-shop in San Antonio, Texas. They stock the paper; have the giant printers, calibration capabilities, and archival inks I prefer to use. I also like being able to discuss face to face with my printmaking managers to make sure I get the best quality possible.
Fine Art Paper:
When choosing paper, you want something that will stand the test of time, hold the color, and be tight enough to produce highly precise images on. Then you get into texturing. Every manufacturer has different recipes for their papers and different textures. If you are showing skin on a person you'll want a smooth texture, but landscapes may look better with more raised and rough texturing patterns. This is why fine art print studios offer so many papers and gets into the fun part of matching just the right paper to your art so as to actually extenuate the finished product. And finally, each paper also has different color shades, weights, and thickness. A natural colored paper won't work if most of your art needs to show bright whites, but will compliment something created to look warmly aged.
Hahnemühle William Turner Paper:
The Texas Collection and Sampler Collection first edition prints use this paper. This is museum grade archival paper, meaning it can hold its color without fading or deteriorating. It has a permanence rating of 75 years. It also has a water resistant topcoat and matte finish. This is one of Hahnemühle’s thickest print papers. The weight is 310 gsm and has a 21mil thickness. It is acid-free, 100% natural white cotton with a sandpaper-like surface texture. It is coated for excellent image sharpness, has optimum color graduation and excellent black and white definition. These manufacturing details help make this paper stand the test of time.
Hahnemühle Bamboo Paper:
The Military Collection prints are issued on this paper unless another paper is requested for “special edition” print runs. This paper is also museum grade archival paper with bright white finish. It too has a 75-year permanence rating. The paper is acid-free, pH-neutral weighing in at 290gsm with a 19mil thickness. It’s composed of 90% bamboo and 10% cotton. Appreciation of additional durability, as well as the exceptional bright white contrasting options yields superior color saturation and a high Dmax for the reproduction of my highly detailed original realism paintings. This paper has a very subtle smooth texture pattern and a high water resistance top coating. I want to match the colors and details to the original military paintings with precise accuracy and no texture effects. Both paper types are fed though commercial Canon iPF8400 printers using Canon Lucia archival inks. Printed in San Antonio, Texas, USA
All Collections by L.Nicholas Smith are formally registered at the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress. The artist retains all copyright and reproduction rights. The artwork cannot be reproduced by any means without expressed written consent of the artist or his legal estate. You do have the right to resell any of the artwork you own as secondhand.