Blog / 2008 / If You Don’t Document Your Work, You Never Made It.

May 16, 2008

If people can’t see your art unless they are in your studio, you may as well never have made the work. Documentation can’t ever do the real thing justice, but it should come as close as possible.

If I document my own work, it isn’t just that I’m a consummate DIYer. Documenting my art means that I can get it done quickly and without shelling out any more money. I have found it helpful to invest in the tools necessary for the job instead of borrowing equipment when I need it. I like to have the tools on hand, especially since most of the equipment is multi-purpose and useful in other aspects of my process.


Tools: proper digital camera, tripod, two shop lights with two daylight bulbs each, a tall object (my fridge at the moment), a computer equipped with photo editing software like Photoshop.

documenting art

I set up my “photo studio” in my little kitchen. I lean the painting up against the far wall, near the fridge, and set up my tripod and camera at the entrance of the kitchen. I turn off all other lights in apartment and rest the two shop lights on top of the fridge.

documenting art

The light bounces off the ceiling, walls and cabinets. By the time it reaches the painting, it’s ambient and doesn’t cause the evil glare that ruins a good image.

Since I make postcards and printouts from these photos, they must be sharp. That’s where the tripod comes in. There’s not way to get a crisp image without it.

I also take many photos of both the full composition and the details in order to be sure that I get one completely in-focus image. And I check the clarity of the image by loading it onto the computer, opening it in my photo editing software, and magnifying it many times to be sure that the image is sharp.

a Polish-American woman as an American flag
Gwenn Seemel
Nowa Flaga (Polish-American, Bonnie)
acrylic on canvas patchwork flag
48 x 34 inches
(This portrait is part of Apple Pie, a series about what it means to be American.)

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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