Chez Jurassic-The Last Days: I created this “painting” exclusively with Painter IX Artists' Oils and a few discreet applications of surface textures for depth.
Can digitally created images
qualify as fine art?
Does using Painter IX.5’s tracing paper in the Clone feature somehow invalidate the art because it circumvents the centuries-old tradition of eye and hand coordination perfected by the Dutch Masters? Does applying a surface texture in Painter to a selection in an image count as anything but sleight of hand? And, while we’re here, does having the flexibility of working with layers, cut and paste, and undo undermine pure art?
Eggs to Oils
We can find an answer in the history of art. The proto-artists who created those prehistoric and marvelous cave paintings of 30,000 years ago, and even artists of the Renaissance made their own paints by grinding pigments. And before the innovation of oil painting —with its slow-drying properties —reached Italy, Michelangelo and Leonardo were using egg tempera, which dried very quickly and didn’t allow for making changes or corrections. A Flemish painter, Jan van Eyck, invented (or perhaps rediscovered) oil paints in the15th century. Oil paint is a mixture of ground pigments and linseed, poppy or walnut oil. Before oil paint, most painters in Europe used traditional tempera paint. The invention of oil paints allowed artists to paint much more realistically, experiment with different brushstrokes and styles, and, of course, make changes. Since oil dries slowly, artists could take more time to work on details and capture the nuance textures of skin and fabrics.
Oil paints could also be built up in thin layers, which better reflect light, which was, of course, the hallmark of Dutch portrait painters, including Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer. In his 1558 book Magiae Naturalis, Giovanni Battista Della Porta recommended the use of a device—later called “camera obscura” (dark room)—as an artist’s aid for drawing.There is evidence that in the mid-1600’s, even that Dutch perfectionist Vermeer used the camera obscura to aid him in his wonderful interior paintings.
In short, throughout the centuries, artists of the Western world used whatever they could to capture perspective, and often used a squaring up technique (a grid that breaks up the image into squares) to lay down proper proportions of the image at hand.
Today, with the improvements in printing technology, museums accept digital art prints as part of their collections. Before artists began working on canvas, they had been painting on walls and ceilings—often in fresco. There is no reason a digital work has to be printed, in the traditional sense, in the 21st century at all. It can be hung as a self-contained screen, or projected onto a surface. . Art cannot be confined to a box, a wall, a museum, a gallery. Or to any single method.
The point here is that artists are inventors. They have always embraced whatever tools and techniques might help them produce better work more efficiently. Art is work. As an artist who has been using Painter for some years now, I can tell you that this digital medium is no more of a leap in media and method than the one made from tempera to oils some 500 years ago.
Must Masterpieces be Made by Hand?
"Is digital art valid" is not the question. Whatever art is— and it has been redefined for every time and with every new movement—it is not about the tools used. Anyone can produce a work using traditional oils on canvas; whether or not it is “art” is best left for time to tell, but it surely isn’t determined by the tools used. It is equally true that the use of digital effects is irrelevant; art is what an artist makes, whatever the means.
Picasso reportedly dismissed computers as a medium because they "delivered only answers." This was in the earlty 1970's, long before Painter IX arrived on the scene. Given that he was open to experimentation, Picasso might well have embraced Painter IX, and truly enjoyed making all those repetitive hatch marks on his antiwar mural, Guernica.
If the user is an artist, then the tools or media are but the means, not the qualifier or the end that makes the work something we call art.
Eden Maxwell is an artist and published book author. He has contributed to many publications, including Popular Science, Art Calendar Magazine, Drachen Foundation Journal, Popular Mechanics, MacStreet Journal Online, Omni, MacUser, MacDigest, and Computer Gaming World. His art has been exhibited on both coasts and his work has appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Visit Eden's Atelier and Gallery website. You may also reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org