My Paintings and Original Giclees by Howard Ganz

My songs are caught in the patterns of my paintings. The form is intuitive, but the result of years of art making, and of studying the art and ideas of other artists.

I have growing confidence in my choices and the knowledge that my choices, when right for me and my works, make their own form. I am influenced by Cubist structure and the vibrancy of Impressionist color liberated from a systematic impressionism as in Hans Hoffmann’s audacious splashes and in Frank Gehry’s tearing-apart of space to reveal new exaltation in the midst of nowhere and everywhere.

There are always new possibilities from the depths of ourselves, even as we are held in the labyrinths of our cultures.

That said, I realize it is not an analysis of my art, but a kind or poetry to help one soar into the spirit of what I’m doing as an artist.

I have no fear of the computer. The art of a culture may be a continued progression from its past. But art is not a love of the past. It is more a love of the now. The computer is now the most powerful tool we have invented. Surely it will help us create our greatest art yet. Many among us are afraid of computer intelligence usurping our dignity and self-reliance. I see it as a new colleague. In the past I have written large, design-making systems for computers. For a while this was my artwork. But now I paint from my heart with traditional tools sometimes, and with the computer version of painting tools other times.

The works I do using computer simulations of painting tools are just as purely mine as the works I do with real oil paint. In these works I don’t use the computer to think for me or even to draw for me or to manipulate photographs for me.

The computer as a painting tool allows me to reach high levels of expression, because it provides a better perspective on my work and more immediate response to my process of painting than do traditional painting media.

It’s as if I had many servants mixing paint for me, cleaning my brushes, holding my painting at a distance when I need to see it smaller, enlarging it when I need to work with a detail. I never run out of paint, paper or canvas, and I don’t wear out the surface nor have to scrape off too much paint.

Freeing myself from some of the physical and attention consuming chores of traditional painting techniques allows me to stay more focused on the art. For me this has been a benefit enabling me go further into the land of what I feel as an artist.

Recently, computer color technology has made great strides forward. It is now possible, through the techniques of color management, to match colors between a color monitor’s display and a printer’s output. This can be done with well-designed standard software that maintains the color relationships as the image is moved from one device to another. It is not necessary to retune each color when the image is moved and printed.

The color space of the printers now comes close to matching the color space of the monitors, and there are archival inks available. Prints can be made on heavily textured paper or cloth. Output now can be with archival materials.

This process of painting on a computer and outputing a print with archival materials falls into the category of fine art printmaking, a fine old tradition including such media as woodblock, engraving, etching, lithography and serigraphy.

In printmaking the artist makes a master image, and then uses the master to create a set of prints. The artist has direct control of the process. And the artist’s intent is directly transmitted to the prints. There is no intermediary between him and the completed set of prints. There is nothing to get in the way and dull or blur the resulting artwork. Sometimes specialists known as master printers make the final prints under the supervision of the artist.

In computer painting the master image is the image on the monitor which is kept in a computer file. The file of this image is then sent to the printer to make the set of prints.

Computers have grown so much in power and size that the range and subtlety of color is virtually unlimited. The preferred printers are ink jet printers, but other kinds of high-resolution printers can also be used.

The name that has become common for computer printmaking is "giclee" (pronounced: zgee clay), a French word meaning to spay or to sputter. Artists using the Iris printer, one of the first and best of the large format high-resolution ink jet printers, coined the name giclee. My work is done using Epson ink jet printers, which are also among the best printers with very high-resolution images and a very large color space.

I prefer to call my prints "original giclees" rather than just "giclees" to distinguish them from prints called giclees that are reproductions of oil and watercolor paintings that were not originally intended to be fine art prints. Using ink jet printing to make reproductions is a good idea, but it is not the same as fine art printmaking where the artist originally intends his work to be an edition of prints, and does his work directly on the master plate (in this case the master computer file).

Fine art prints are usually made in hand signed limited editions. This is to ensure that the work is not endlessly proliferated by separate parties who might make unauthorized prints not supervised and controlled by the artist.

I still go out and paint from nature using oils or acrylics. After all, nature is my contact point, my stability. But sitting behind my computer screen my spirit soars, as I command endless arrays of color and move to inner worlds of expression, as I effortlessly set up just the patterns I need, those that turn on my remembrance of things I’ve seen and felt in nature. Not that it’s always easy; sometimes there’s a struggle for days till the final form emerges. I usually succeed but sometimes I fail and scrap the work. After all, this is still painting, similar to other painting media. It still depends on the skill, imagination and integrity of the painter.