If you want to pay between $500 and $5,000 for an original painting of rural Cullowhee, Craig Forrest will oblige, but with some reluctance. Like many artists, the owner of the NC-based Sleepy Hollow Studio is attached to his work. Most times, he say he stumbles across his subjects by accident. He explains, "If you go out and try to find a subject, you're destined to fail. When you have a bond with the subject, you're going to produce a stronger painting." Forrest also believes that the ideal community in which to paint is one that nurtures history. His own story is a good example of how old and new collide.
The artist sometimes works on commission, otherwise, he sells to collectors and public institutions. But for Forrest, not selling a high-priced painting means not getting paid. Since art is Forrest's only source of livelihood, he is forced to be as much a business man as he is painter. He says that people in his rural community can't always afford $500 for one painting. Prints, however, are an added-value.
Realizing the potential in the print business, Forrest set out to reproduce prints to sell for $35 to $50 each. But because the artist takes a great deal of pride in his work, shoddy reprints were an obstacle when it came to matching his original works. He says that's why he chose two new tools, an EPSON printer and the MonacoEZcolor management system.
The Good, the Bad and the Mismatched
When Forrest first founded Sleepy Hollow Studio in 1996, reproductions of watercolor paintings were expensive to print. Typically, the painter shipped a work to his printer, from which a proof would be made. The process, says Forrest, could sometimes drag on for several rounds of rejections, until finally arriving at a compromise, though never a true match. The method was expensive, especially since Forrest often haggled over the phone about color control. "Matching an original painting with the printer is very demanding," he says, "because the colors have to come darn close."