Although a particular medium or tool might exert enormous influence on how a particular artist expresses him/herself, the medium itself remains a neutral participant.
The worth of any painting rests solely on the degree of heart and soul the artist brings to the creative act.
Traditional to digital
Despite a formal education in art and a long history of working with traditional painting materials, in 2004 I turned my attentions to what the digital art world might offer.
And what I found was a painting medium that never dried until needed, never cracked no matter how applied, and never off-gassed or needed a cleanup period. In addition, it was infinitely malleable and effortlessly aligned its intrinsic temperament to my every creative whim.
After much experimentation, a sizable amount of research, and some deep soul searching, I finally admitted that I wasn’t going to turn back.
I paint and draw on a large, pressure sensitive graphics tablet using a special stylus that transfers my strokes faithfully to the screen. This technology responds to every nuance of my hand’s movements and pressure changes. My brush stroke gestures on the tablet and then funneled through software that allows me to effortlessly emulate the qualities of the traditional paints I so dearly love.
When I previously used traditional paints I would sit in front of an easel. Now I sit at a desk facing two large LCD monitors.
The monitor directly in front of me displays my digital canvas and the work in progress. It’s twin to the right holds a good deal of my working paint pallets, painting tools, and reference material.
While the idea to switch came in a flash that felt almost like a revelation, my conditioned, traditionally trained artist’s mind at first put up strong resistance. Would I lose my artistic integrity? Was this the “Dark Side” tempting me?.
Thankfully I managed to somehow find the strength to listen to my heart’s promptings. To be honest, I haven’t looked back since the switch.
Digital paint allows me to work in ways which were once only a dream. No drying time, no concern for paint layers interacting inappropriately, no varnishing, no cracking, no fumes…and so much creative freedom at my fingertips!
I remember a day in art school back in 1971, a time well before personal computers. Some fellow students and I were talking about oil paint’s traditional qualities and limits, and how we might deal with them now that we were painting in the later part of the 20th century.
That conversation resolved none of the challenges we voiced, but it did leave me with an itch for the perfect medium.
A fantasy paint
Later that day multi-textured images began flooding my mind as I day-dreamed about the perfect painting medium.
It would of course stay wet and malleable for however long I wished. I could then apply a thick buttery layers of paint and blend them for weeks at a time. It would also dry instantly whenever I wished. Adding crisp, sharp lines directly on top would then be a breeze. And I could add endless layers without any technical problems.
It seemed pure fantasy.
Fast forward to the present. That fantasy paint of 1971 is what I’m using today. Thanks to the wonders of modern computer technology, I’ve finally found my dream medium.