Archiving Work part 3

Optical Storage
Armand Cabrera

Optical Storage is the most permanent form of commercial storage available. Optical storage are discs like standard CD and DVD and Blu-Ray discs which can be marked in patterns that are then read by focused laser light. Most of these are considered to last longer than magnetic storage but are still not permanent.  A CD can hold 700 MB of data a DVD 4.5 GB . A Blu-Ray DVD holds 25 GB, 50 GB or 100 GB. Standard optical media are susceptible to UV Light and damage from temperature and mishandling. The dye layer used to write the information on decays over a few years’ and is considered usable for 8 to 10 years.

There is a relatively new type of optical storage disc out now made by Millenniata called Mdisc that claim a 1,000 years of permanence. Mdiscs use a rock like material instead dyes to record the patterns on the disc physically marking the disc with the information. These discs are more expensive than standard discs but even if they only last 100 years, the extra price would be worth it. Mdiscs need a compatible machine to use them; they cannot record but will play in a standard machine. Larger companies now offer such machines and compatibility. Mdiscs come as standard DVD’s that hold 4.7 GB per disc and Blu-Ray DVD’s that hold 25 GB per disc.

 All storage has their drawbacks and physical limitations. Ultimately it is up to each individual to decide what’s right for their working conditions and budget. I hope these brief posts gave people ideas for their own solutions.

Photographing Art Digitally Part 2


Armand Cabrera

Digital images are easier to manipulate than traditional film. Digital tools allow anyone with the money to buy the software and with a little study and practice be able to edit their own images.  I use Photoshop for all of my image correcting.

This is not a Photoshop tutorial; if you don’t know the basics of Photoshop I recommend buying the software and using the online help tutorials that come with it to learn its basic functions. These online help features are the equivalent of reading the manual.

I want to make the image look almost as good as the original. This idea is very important.  It is very easy to make a painting look better than it actually is with digital tools. As an artist selling my work I want to avoid this at all costs. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing the physical painting and realizing that the image was manipulated to look better than the artist was capable of painting it.
I am currently using Photoshop CS5 on a workstation PC. If you have an apple computer I feel sorry for you and this article is not for you.
When I open the image in Photoshop, I first crop it using the crop tool and square it using the free transform function. Once the free transform function is activated I position the control points while pressing the control key on my keyboard while I work. This activates the distort function which allows me to pull any point handle independently of the others.  I avoid using the auto correct functions on the image. The goal is to make it like the original, not some predetermined idea of what a good photo is.
Next I open the color balance tool and adjust the color.
Then I open the brightness /contrast tool and adjust the brightness and contrast.
The last thing I do is open the Hue /Saturation Tool and adjust the saturation.
All of this should get me close to the original painting. If not I will go in and using the selection tools adjust elements of the painting individually for color, saturation and value. When I am finished I save the image as a jpeg file on its highest setting at 300 DPI. I label it for print and then open up the image size tool and make a copy for my web postings. I set the DPI at 72 instead of 300 and set the longest measurement at 800 pixels.
 That size is just enough for someone to get a good idea of what the image is but not high enough for someone to make prints of. And that’s it. Professional images that are good enough for print publications and the web.




The free transform tool is found in the Edit dropdown menu. You must have an active selection (Already selected something)  to select it from the dropdown menu.
The Image size and crop Functions are found under the Image dropdown menu


The Color Balance Tool, the Brightness /Contrast Tool and the Hue/Saturation Tool are all found under the adjustments fly out panel, under the image dropdown menu.

Art and Labor


Armand Cabrera
 “I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study

 mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and

 philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture,

 navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children

 a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary,

 tapestry and porcelain.” ~ John Adams

We just finished celebrating labor day here in the USA.
 Labor groups have been much maligned the last few decades. Some of the criticism is just but a lot of it is not. With labor groups weakening we are seeing a return to pre-1920 work ideas. Almost gone are the 8 hour work day and 40 hour work week. Gone is the idea you get paid an hourly wage in some industries like entertainment and gaming.

What has this got to do with art you might ask? Well everything. Labor movements of the last few centuries took their cues from the artisan guilds that started during medieval times
and led to the renaissance for arts and European society.
It wasn’t quick, or without suffering but artists were there at the beginning.

Before the guilds you had very few classes of people in Europe. You had the ruling class, the clergy, the military class and serfs or slaves. Serfs were beholden to their masters and their masters could do what they wanted with them. They were expected to do everything to provide their masters with leisure time. It became obvious though that some serfs were better at building things than others, some were better at painting or pot making than others. Some had greater skill at metallurgy or woodcraft.
The division of labor started to fall along lines of skill but these people were still slaves
and when the ruler needed something they stepped to it skilled or not.

Guilds helped to change that. Guilds shifted the power back to the artisans who had unique knowledge that gave them skill with certain disciplines. Groups of people formed guilds around  disciplines to control the quality and the knowledge of a particular craft. The ruling class now hired and paid craft people to produce objects for them. Artisans became a class of people. It elevated them slightly from serfdom and peasantry. Their worth and status was not based on their bloodlines.
Though the artists themselves were not revered individually
their guild could be and that meant a better life for them and their family.
You worked as an apprentice in a guild under a master to learn to reproduce the master’s work exactly, learning over years to create a “master piece” something indistinguishable from the masters own work in the eyes of the patrons. Once this was accomplished an artisan could with his masters blessing then start another guild and continue the legacy of quality and style.
Guilds continued to elevate classes of people as society moved from small fiefdoms of slaves to freemen that were allowed to own property and control their own destinies. Again art and artisans led the way for this. As artists sought more control and expression over what they made the ideas of guilds loosened. Artists had more freedom for innovation and experimentation and this flowering of shared knowledge helped support the renaissance.  Artists were elevated to some of the highest levels of society as court artists, portrait painters, musicians, architects and muralists.
Every century brought greater freedom and a better standard of living for more people. Whenever things reversed and society faltered, groups of people would band together for their common interests and demand fair treatment.  The more skilled they were the more leverage they had over their place in society since their abilities could not easily be replaced.

Art and skill will always drive innovation and social change.
As artists let’s make it for the betterment of all in society. 

Behind the Scenes


Armand Cabrera

Most of the work for an art show goes on behind the scenes. I usually do two or three shows a year. That’s on average 20 to twenty five paintings for each show and this is on top of my normal production schedule that I maintain with my galleries and other clients in entertainment.

Shows take a lot of effort to plan and produce. There are editorial copy and ads and invitations to write and disseminate for all of the various outlets that we target for a specific show. The theme of the show must be decided upon well in advance. Travel arrangements made and trip logistics planned.  All of this needs to happen before or in tandem with the paintings being completed on time.
I am lucky in that both Diane and I are technical enough to handle all of the promotion and prep from our side. The gallery or venue is also busy with preparations and plans and everything has to be timed just right for a successful show.
Of course new commissions will crop up and new opportunities will come along while we make our plans and must be fitted into a reasonable schedule to keep everyone happy.

The paintings have to be framed and shipped and the space hung. I like to have paintings finished a month or more before a show and ship everything at least two weeks before the opening.  This doesn’t mean I don’t swap things out at the last minute or change my mind about what to include in a show but I make sure I have the body of work finished before I do that.  I like to offer a range of sizes and subjects for my shows and to demonstrate the range of my interests at that particular time in my career.  I think all of this helps educate my clients about my work.

My normal practice is to over-produce so I can pick what I consider the best pieces for a venue. So if I decide on 20 paintings for a show, most likely I will paint 40. This gives me a little wiggle room for subsequent shows and gallery requests later in the year. It also allows the gallery to veto a piece or two if they feel they wouldn’t be a good fit for their clientele.  I prefer this to having anyone else participate in my paintings choices beforehand. Those decisions are all mine and they are what keeps me painting and growing as an artist.

Perspective and Its Importance


Armand Cabrera

Almost all of my effort in teaching goes to restating fundamental principles to my students, even those that have achieved some small amount of success. Many of my students have always been interested in art but did not pursue it as a career and so many of them lack the basic fundamental skills needed to create the proper framework to place their paintings over. Students often worry about developing a style but in my opinion style is irrelevant when the fundamentals are lacking. 

The biggest problems in their paintings come from a lack of drawing skills and little or no understanding of linear perspective. A simple understanding of perspective includes vanishing points, eye level and horizon lines and a station point.

Anything you paint that has volume to it needs linear perspective to accomplish competently; Portraits, still life, landscapes, seascapes, city scenes; all of them need a thorough understanding of basic perspective. The more complex a scene becomes the more understanding you need. Think of all of the situations that come up in paintings that have groups of animals or people or reflections, shadows or anything with a complex structure to it. All those situations will need an even deeper consideration of perspective. Why go through your life avoiding those things or painting them badly because you lack the understanding to paint them properly?

People interested in learning more about perspective as it applies to your painting and drawing can find the information in the books ‘Perspective for Artists’ by Rex Vicat Cole from Dover books, ‘Drawing Scenery; Landscapes and Seascapes’ by Jack Hamm and ‘Successful Drawing by Andrew Loomis’. Of those three books the first one by Cole is only one that focuses on perspective exclusively. The other two cover it in conjunction with good drawing principles.