I had two computers fail last weekend. My workstation, the CPU fan failed which was reasonably easy to replace although with the storms it still took a week. My laptop was a complete failure of the drive and since its a ten year old xp machine it ewas time to let it go.
I rely on my computers to give me the date and time, keep my calendar of appointments and update me with current events and weather. Most of my correspondence is through email or text. All of my advertising and marketing is digital now too. Social media and portfolio sites play a big part in my presence as an artist and of course there is still this blog. All of which I need to be able to access on something besides the two inch screen of my Smartphone.
Of the two computers the laptop was expendable so I’m glad the situation turned out how it did but the whole incident got me thinking about how much technology has changed how I work in the past ten years. While I’m no Luddite compared to people my same age, I’m sure the younger artists out there are rolling their eyes right now at me saying “please, you still work traditionally for the final image you are making.”
Even with my traditional work I have let computers into most of the process. Photo reference is shot with my digital camera and editing is all in the computer, as are compositional sketches and color keys. I no longer have to print out images to work from in the studio I have dedicated a large monitor for that. If I do print things they get printed from the computer.
This last week has left me picking up old ways of working, lots of pencil thumbnails and some small color sketches and painting from field studies. What I noticed immediately is how much the preliminaries in the traditional process matter and how much more focused I am working that way.
My traditional painting is the end result for me, but even so, digital tools really allow decision making to be put off indefinitely and I think that matters a great deal in painting. One of the reasons painting outdoors from life is so important is it forces decision making during the process whereas working in the controlled environment of the studio, especially with tech, does not.
Going forward I am going to be paying more attention to this to see if there is a way to use tech in a way that doesn’t short circuit decisions and leave everything up in the air in a fluid state of endless process and multiple outcomes.
Dennis Miller Bunker
Art can be many things depending on who you ask the question of. For me art is getting to the heart of a paintings subject and revealing something of that understanding. It is not just copying the surface quality of the theme blindly, nor is it imposing so much of my personality on the thing being painted that it reveals nothing of the subject.
Painting, at its best, in my opinion, is a discourse between the artist and their motif and it takes a couple of things to accomplish. One is the ability to translate the message and get it on the canvas in a way that is not overworked. The freshness and economy of the application is important to the statement. It says that you understand what you are communicating.
To do all that though one needs to listen and look, absorb the image and understand its essence, finding the qualities of the thing that makes that scene, in those moments, a unique event never to be repeated. It requires approaching every subject with humility and openness to what we are experiencing and seeing.
The artist must be careful during the process and make sure they are avoiding rote answers to design and composition color and brush work. It is engaging all the senses in the development of the image. Fighting the comfort of what you know you can do and pushing yourself to the limits of your abilities and experience something new is the only way of achieving this.
Almost all of my effort in teaching goes to restating fundamental principles to my students, even those that have achieved some small amount of success. Many of my students have always been interested in art but did not pursue it as a career and so many of them lack the basic fundamental skills needed to create the proper framework to place their paintings over. Students often worry about developing a style but in my opinion style is irrelevant when the fundamentals are lacking.
The biggest problems in their paintings come from a lack of drawing skills and little or no understanding of linear perspective. A simple understanding of perspective includes vanishing points, eye level and horizon lines and a station point.
Anything you paint that has volume to it needs linear perspective to accomplish competently; Portraits, still life, landscapes, seascapes, city scenes; all of them need a thorough understanding of basic perspective. The more complex a scene becomes the more understanding you need. Think of all of the situations that come up in paintings that have groups of animals or people or reflections, shadows or anything with a complex structure to it. All those situations will need an even deeper consideration of perspective. Why go through your life avoiding those things or painting them badly because you lack the understanding to paint them properly?
By Armand Cabrera
“Brush strokes carry a message whether you will it or not. The stroke is just like the artist at the time he makes it. All the certainties, all the uncertainties, all the bigness of his spirit and all the littleness are in it.” —– Robert Henri
Intent is often overlooked when creating a painting. Intent is different than an idea for a painting. The idea is subject or narrative of your image but just as important for the image is the why of it. Why make this image?
In my opinion it is intent that drives the creative process and affects the outcome of the final image. Why not make it conscious? I would argue the best paintings an artist can make have a clear intent from their author. The artist has found something to say about the subject being depicted. There are more utilitarian forms of intent like only painting to make money or painting to be famous or just practicing for improving ones skill but even there knowing the purpose of your work will affect the outcome.
Every artist who has ever attempted to sell their work has had to deal with compromise. Once you put your work up for sale you begin a form of collaboration. Better to have that collaboration at the beginning of the painting process before the artist actually starts the image than the end.
At its best all parties respect their roles in the transaction and this allows the artist to willingly accept the work being requested or purchased outright. In its worst form selling art can be a nightmare, it is a job with the artist being little more than the one who renders the idea with little other input into the creation. Sometimes an artist can be asked to change a finished piece of art to accommodate an interested client. To the degree the intent of the picture is embraced by the artist the better chance that artist has of creating something worthwhile.