Paintings & Prints Information
Original Oil Paintings~
Congratulations on your acquisition of one of my original oil paintings. This information sheet will explain how my paintings come together, the materials used, how to care for your artwork, my authenticity protocol, portfolio types, how to display, and my copyright limitations.
As a new painting owner, you should understand that your oil painting doesn’t dry immediately like acrylic paint. Oil paintings take months to completely dry or “ripen” in color. The painting’s hues will slightly change and the texture may patina and crackle with age. Oil painting has been around for centuries and centuries old oil paintings are still being enjoyed. 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. Some of the most common brands I use are Michael Harding of London, Vasari of NYC, Gamblin of Portland and Winston & Newton of UK.
About the Surface:
I paint on stretched cotton or linen canvas stretched over wood frames. I also use hardboard, solid wood or wood panels. All the surfaces are primed with acid-free gesso or a priming pigment like Fredrix oil priming titanium. The surface tension and grains affect how the painting looks and how it will age. Using quality organic acid-free materials has a proven longevity in art history.
About the Mediums:
I utilize a variety of mediums such as cold-pressed and refined linseed oil, preferably from Portugal. I use the mediums to actually extend the drying time. Doing so gives me more ability to make color adjustments, increase the oil paint’s smoothness, and flexibility.
About the Varnish:
Varnishes are a must. They are a quick way to preserve the paint color and the first layer of defense against the elements. Varnish luster varies from matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. Having a varnished painting also allows you to safely damp cloth dust your oil painting should it ever need it.
Packaging for transport:
There are professional movers that specialize in fine art transportation. If this is not in your budget, I recommend first wrapping the painted side of your painting with glassine or parchment paper. Any tapes that touch your wood frame or the canvas should have only acid-free adhesives. Frame corners and layers of bubble wrap or blankets are ideal before placing your artwork into a wood cargo crate or heavy-duty box.
Protecting your Fine Art
When fine art oil paintings are displayed or stored in climate-controlled conditions they easily last for centuries. High humidity could produce molds and mildew on your artwork. Air pollution such as from tobacco smoke or fireplace soot may also adversely affect the oil paintings. As with all organic materials one should monitor for insect infestations too. If you notice insects, seek the advice of an art conservationist. Again, my artwork is varnished which helps to physically protect the paintings.
I have created a standardization process to help with the authenticity of my artwork for appraisals, assessments, and resale. All my art dating from 2015 has multiple tiers of validation to verify I created the art and it entered the economy originally from my studio. I also have art out in the world that pre-dates this process. You can always contact me for authentication. Most of my wartime sketches and drawings were “left” in Iraq, it would be great to see them again should anyone come across them. The 2015 standardization protocol is now retired and I’ve created an improved 2020 standardization protocol.
The 2020 Standardization Protocol:
My copyright signature is L. Nicholas Smith. This is painted onto each painting. The petite paintings signatures have my initials, LNS.
Each painting is issued into a Collection Portfolio. Appraisers will secondarily focus their valuations on the body of work in each portfolio in addition to the painting itself and overall body of work. Each Collection has its own seal. In the middle of the seal is a symbol. That symbol is painted onto the actual painting near my signature when the painting is complete. This immediately identifies what collection portfolio that painting was issued in.
My 3” circular studio logo titled L. Nicholas Smith Fine Art is stamped with archival ink on the back of all artwork that has directly left my studio. Artwork smaller that 3inches will have my 1” studio logo stamped on the back.
A stock keeping unit (SKU) number is stamped on the back of each painting. The SKU code identifies the collection and where that painting sits in the history of that collection. Not all collections started with a number 1. Some began with numbers personally important to me. However, from the start number all paintings are numerically successive.
Each painting receives a Certificate of Authenticity. On the certificate is a picture of the painting, identifying data about the painting, my signature, date and the paper is embossed with the Collection Seal of the portfolio that painting was issued in. The certificate acts like a property title. I recommend the original owner of the painting sign and date the back of the CoA and each time the painting transfers ownership a signature and date record be written on the CoA. Good record keeping adds provenance to the history of the painting and helps both appraisers and lawyers legally value and transfer this sort of property.
When buying one of my paintings directly from me, I will provide a paper bill of sale in additional to any digital receipts that may generate from my computerized register.
My donated artwork will not have a bill of sale but a Certificate of Release to whichever person, charity, or organization it was given. On this paperwork will list the retail price I would value the artwork for sales purposes. Additionally, the artist’s reserve amount if any that would have been collected should the artwork have been used for charity fundraising auctions.
The Collections: I categorize my paintings by genre and style. I have personally designed a custom seal for each collection. The center of each seal has a symbol. The symbol is painted near my signature on every painting. You can see these seals on my website and publications. I also have embossers of each seal to further validate the prints and paperwork related to the original paintings. As of 2020, the names of my collection portfolios are America, Military, Texas, Sampler, Color, Holiday, Petite Paintings and Special Commission. The Petites are issued only with a miniaturized certificate of authenticity.
Display: The time-tested frame choice over the centuries for realism paintings is literally “The Gold Standard”. Wood frames painted in liquid gold, gold leaf or gold patina enduringly cast a warm glow onto paintings, which almost always is the most flattering accent to any realism painting. However, abstract art, watercolors, prints, drawings, or paintings needing a different framing contrast have many options. The frame material, color, size and form can all affect how the overall painting presentation looks. Frames can always be changed, but I do recommend that a frame be used not just for the decorative aspect, but also to add an additional layer of structural protection to your artwork.
Illumination: Light also drastically affects how your painting looks. Incandescent and halogen bulbs highlight the warm colors. LED bulbs highlight the cool colors. If using a frame light, pay attention to the spectrum width and depth the light casts onto the painting to make sure it’s large enough to illuminate your entire painting. The time of day, time of season, and ambient weather conditions affect how sunlight interacts with your painting too. Most visually affected by the changing sunlight conditions are my abstract wabi sabi Color Collection paintings. The oil paints are thick and have many layers of colors in them. Seeing different colors and shapes in direct sunlight vs. cloud-filtered light is quite possible.
Copyright: All Collections by L. Nicholas Smith are registered at the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress, not the individual paintings. L. Nicholas Smith or my estate retains all copyright and reproduction rights. The artwork cannot be reproduced by any means without expressed written consent of my benefactors or myself. You can of course resell any my artwork you own as secondhand and I genuinely wish for you a good profit. Keeping the artwork in good condition and transferring the certificate of authenticity will help you obtain top value if you sell the art and aids insurance appraisers to get you compensation in the event of a loss.
Final Note: Fine art is created for generations of enjoyment, as such it is recommended to consider specifically identifying your artwork in your own insurance packages and in your will or trust. Artistic provenance is not just what I, the artist passes on, but who chooses the art, how it’s used, and where it goes also matures the painting’s adventure. Thank you again, for investing and enjoying my artwork.
~Updated May 18, 2020
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.
~Updated January 12, 2020