Thursday, 31 January 2013

My first digital painting

I don’t think I’m posting here enough and I’m only posting about art stuff – I might start posting about non-art stuff but I’m not sure my existence is interesting enough.

Anyway, here’s my first attempt at digital painting and some thoughts on this kind of work:

Before I ever attempted any form of digital work, I knew that I would only do “digital painting” if the results actually looked like a painting (i.e. the viewer can see strokes, brush touches, etc) because I struggle with the rationale for making a digital painting that looks photorealistic with the exception of fantasy art. I can see the point of making photo-real fantasy work (like Frank Frazetta’s work for example, even thought he worked traditionally) because it’s giving the viewer a seemingly true window into an unreal world. However I can’t see the point of painting a portrait or such like digitally and making it photo-real because there is no “original artwork” (simply an on screen image or print) so the viewer might as well be looking at a photo of their grandfather or Beyonce or whoever it is that has been rendered.

I strive to make my traditional work realistic but I definitely never want to produce a perfect photo real image for similar reasons. However, I can see merit in making a photo realistic traditional work because the viewer can see that the work is graphite on paper, acrylic on canvas, etc and therefore the photographic quality is a testament to the artist’s technical skill. In digital, the viewer can’t see canvas or paper and so if the image is a photorealistic one, it’s not readily apparent that the image they are looking at is a work of art or simply a photograph – most would simply think it was a photograph.

I also struggle with the fact that there is no original, no one of a kind piece of art, it’s simply a file on a computer. Indeed you can make prints of it but you don’t have that special “this is a truly unique item” feeling that you get from owning a traditionally produced piece of art.

Obviously for the commercial world, for illustrators and the like, digital work is now the only way forward. It makes no odds to the art director of a magazine if there is an original piece of work sitting in someone’s studio somewhere, the end result is all they are concerned with (quite rightly). It’s a fact that in the commercial art industry, deadlines have shortened considerably over recent years because digital work is so much more efficient that it’s traditional equivalent. Take the painting below, this is the digital equivalent of “acrylic on canvas” yet I never had to procure any supplies, mix any paint, clean any brushes, etc all was taken care of in under 2 hours, start to finish – I found the image on the internet, sketched it and then painted it all on my Cintiq (graphics tablet). Professionals who are actually putting brush to canvas are a dieing breed. I think there will always be the requirement in fine art for the reasons stated above but in terms of commercial art I can see a future where nothing is produced traditionally at all.

Wow I can go on a bit – eventually, if you are still awake, here’s my first digital painting, a portrait of Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849):

Click to enlarge

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