The Art of Digital Painting
by Ford Weisberg
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A Word About Digital Painting

Digital painting: similarities to and differences from physical painting. Ways of working, 'the physically-made object', texture, character and emotion in digital painting. The advantage of its speed in the creative process. Digital painting is well suited to portraying 'the nature of the world.'

A Word About Digital Painting

Digital painting is a little different from painting with physical media. I hope that providing a few observations can lead to a greater appreciation of this emerging medium.

Firstly, digital painting is painting. It requires a knowledge and feel for materials, whether learned beforehand in the traditional studio or in the digital medium itself. One can work in a non-linear fashion, employing tools such as layers and re-dos, or in a very linear and traditional fashion, according to the needs of the painting at hand. Every artist develops a unique method of working. In fact, as interests, subject matter and artistic needs change, so does an artists working methods. New needs demand new techniques, as Jackson Pollock put it.

Though digital painting may thrive in production art, it is growing as a serious means of creating pure art. Importantly, this includes painters who still also paint with the physical medium of paint. Inevitably, there are comparisons with the physically made object that is a traditional painting. A digital painting when printed on canvas or paper, not only is also a physical object, but can contain every bit as much a feeling of texture, as well as character and emotion as any traditional painting. Furthermore, while a digital painting is a painting, it is also an emerging medium with its own character. I sometimes ask myself when working in this new medium, can paint really do that?.

Other than the joy of not having to deal with turpentine or dirty brushes, I find that the great advantage in digital media is the speed with which you can work. Not because it means you can create more works per week, because usually you cant. It still takes many hours to paint a digital picture. Making it ready for printing is yet another adventure, and printing it yourself or communicating your wishes to your professional printer is yet another voyage of discovery. All this is due to the fact that I discover elements in the picture at the printing stage which can lead to changes of direction. And all this takes time.

No, the speed is important because the act of using physical paint is so much slower than the speed of your mind. Digital paint, while still not up to the speed of your mind, is much faster to work with than physical paint. This great speed of digital paint is enormously freeing to your creativity. If, as is the case with me, your working method requires a free flow of ideas, it is much easier to realize them when abetted by the speed of digital paint. The importance of this cannot be overstated. (It also cannot be overstated how much happier a digital painter can be made by sufficient RAM and Dual-Core Processing.)

This show is entitled The Nature of Things: The Nature of the World Versus The World of Nature. While it is my contention that digital painting is perfectly suited to taking on both tasks, personally I prefer to address the nature of the world, and leave the world of nature to others.

Ford Weisberg



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