October 20th, 2008 talkingfox
I hear a lot of argument on both sides about digital media. Galleries have been slow to accept it as a valid media and many analog purists dismiss it as somehow “cheating”. I’ve actually heard some say that digitally created works of art somehow “don’t count because you can just whip ’em up”.
As someone who has worked on both sides of the aisle on this issue let me start by saying that nothing is “just whipped up” in any working artists studio that I know, my own included.
I’ve been working with digital media off and on for well over 20 years. As of late I’ve been working in combinations of digital and analog mediums. Has the digital experience changed my approach as an artist?
Yes and No.
I work mostly with Corel Painter IX these days. It has a gazillion and fifty two nifty features that I don’t use, opting to work the digital format like an analog medium. Why don’t I just work the analog equivalences you may ask?
My reasons are as follows:
1. Pixels aren’t toxic.
I worked in oils for years, then switched to wax pastels due to toxicity issues. I tend to not pay attention to where my brushes and solvents are and also have an unfortunate propensity when rapt in work to stick my brushes in my mouth when I need a point or to wipe solvent laden brushes on my pants leg. *DOH*
Even though there are other mediums that don’t require toxic solvents I realized that most artists pigments are, in and of themselves, toxic. This includes the pigments in pastels, acrylics,watercolors etc. Cadmium anyone? And then there’s always the issue of toxic fixatives.
2 Pixels are green
No solvents, no minerals, no wasted paper in reworks , no waste in general.
3. Safety of Originals
I had a studio flood on me a few years back. I lost a lot of pieces. I’ve also had pieces meet a number of more unusual demises, some involving housecats.
Back up your files on disc regularly and your originals are safe
it takes a whole lot less space to work on a Wacom Tablet than to work on an easel, as well as a drafting table and airbrush booth. That and one doesn’t have to pay for all of that equipment.
See entry 3.
I tend to approach my digital works the same as my analog work ie with classical layering technique.
I also tend to combine scanned analog and digital, using the best of both worlds.
The only thing I really miss about analog is working with impasto, but then again a girl can’t have everything.
When I was in college , back in the earlier days of computer art, my instructor told me 2 things that have stuck with me throughout my career.
The first is that it doesn’t matter what tools an artist uses to get the effect that they’re going for. They STILL have to come up with the idea for the piece and make every call along the way as far as approach.
The second is that a computer is really nothing more than a fast pencil. You still have to be able to draw and be well grounded in artistic fundamentals in order to make it do what you want.
My challenge to you is this…look around the works posted on this site and My Imagekind Gallery.
I have a whole lot of pieces that are marked mixed media. Can you tell which are purely analog and which are analog/digital?
I’d be interested to hear which you think are which.
September 5th, 2008 talkingfox
Since I’ve moved my art production seems to have slowed a bit. Gee, it couldn’t have a thing to do with the 100 lbs each of fruit and veg that I’ve put up this season could it? 😉
I’m afraid that living in the state of Agritopia after 6 years in the sub arctic zone has brought out my hoarding instinct. I must confess, however, that the many jars of vividly colored produce appeals to my aesthetic instinct as well. All that and it just flat tastes better than the commercially canned stuff.
I’m working on the GFCF cookbook as well…and I gotta tell ya my DH loves research and development days.
Be that as it may, I have still managed to get a few pieces done and I’ve quite a few more on the drawing boards.
I’ve started digging into the reference shots that I took while living in the Alaska interior and the ones taken on my recent trip through the Yukon and Northern BC.
This is the most recent painting.
Birch Catkins Mixed Media 2008
I’m finding that very loose brushwork used to create a lot of detail is getting to be my most used technique and tends to make said detail a little less stiff to the eye. It also gives my aspie penchant for twiddling with stuff a place to go that is productive. I’ve also been noticing that over the last few years that my work has been moving from and expression of how I feel and more into an example of how I see.
I like the way that this piece moves. It invokes spring breezes even with the main focus being on the botanical aspects. It’s peaceful without being static. It’s also a study in complementary color relationships without getting in your face. Overall I think it works.
Birch Catkins detail
Click on the image for a closer look
I’ve also been getting some of the photos that stand on their own finished.
Spring Anemones 2008
Click on the image for a closer look
I do tend to see the world in macro…these flowers were only 2 inches or so in diameter. They were the first wildflowers that I saw of the season and were bravely blooming next to a motel parking lot in Tok, Ak
As always I welcome your opinions of the work, positive and negative alike. And again as always prints of these pieces are available at my Imagekind gallery
May 20th, 2008 talkingfox
In 48 hours I’m moving away from Alaska.
Part of me is happy to be going to a place where it doesn’t get below 20F often and one doesn’t have to shovel out in the winter or worry about avalanches, volcanic eruptions, frozen pipes and automobiles or getting stomped on and/or mauled by wildlife.
Another part of me is sad to leave a place of such breathtaking beauty. This place fills up my soul through my eyes.
Living in Alaska pushed my work into areas that I said that I would never go, mainly into landscape.
I don’t know how I could have avoided landscape work living here. Every day brought a different and more intensely beautiful vista, even in the middle of town.
I think it’s all about the light. There is a color of light that’s pervasive here that is usually reserved for a few fleeting days in the very early spring in environments further south. It’s a sort of pinky- golden color and being as there are so many white barked birches , it’s reflected back everywhere. In the winter even snow dumps acquire alpine glow. Add to that the extended sunsets (hours and hours!) and well, even the big 64 box of crayons wouldn’t be sufficient to render it. The sky is always doing something utterly amazing.
One thing that I found impossible in working on the Northshore series was capturing the sheer magnitude of the larger views. Trying to catch color as it was ended up looking garish on the page. Seriously…the color is so very intense that even photography doesn’t seem to quite catch it or ends up looking less than, well, real.
There is not a film on the planet that can even approximate the living blue of glacial ice.
It seems that Alaska will not allow itself to be taken out of context.
In response to this I ended up focusing on small moments rather than the grand view.
This is an example of that and is the last piece in the Northshore Series:
Barnacles, Bladderwrack and Basalt
Mixed media on Paper 2008
Okay before you say “gee it looks just like a photograph” Look here:
Barnacles, Bladderwrack and Basalt detail
Mixed Media on Paper 2008
I’ve heard Alaska described as brutal, savage, and uncompromising. I think it’s more supremely indifferent. It has an extreme and vital sense to it that is separate from human doings. The place thunders under ones feet.
I’ll miss it….except for when the mercury hits -50.
May 2nd, 2008 talkingfox
When I was in college my art professor suggested that there needed to be 2 people working on any given painting. One to paint the thing and another to stand over the artists shoulder and smack him or her repeatedly with a stick at the appropriate moment screaming: It’s done It’s done It’s done DON’T TOUCH IT! 😉
I always have to fight the urge to judge my past work by current standards and the subsequent urge to rework a piece. Repeatedly. To the death.
The question is, is it ever appropriate to do so?
I have to be very careful about allowing myself that liberty. It IS however, at least in my world, OCCASIONALLY warranted.
I’ve just completely reworked a piece that I had deemed finished in 2005. Why?
Well after spending 6 months closely observing the Northern Lights I felt I could do the subject more justice without ruining the feeling of ‘wildness’ of the piece. In short, without overworking and waxing too technical, reworking with restraint. HA! No sticks or shouting required.
If you’re interested in taking a look, the piece has been posted here
I welcome your comments and opinions. Feedback helps me to be a better artist!