Denial of digital?
November 13, 2012
Readers may remember "More to it than meets the eye" by Don Lambert of Weatherford, Texas, in response to my recent letter "Love those apps." Taking a look at Don's work, I was blown away by the remarkable quality. FYI, we've posted a selection at the top of the current clickback.
Don's art is photographically based. As I understand it, he goes to quite a bit of trouble to set up his models and photograph them in period costumes and true-to-life environments. After photos are taken, he may combine by Photoshop other images that give the work added meaning and nuance. Then he passes the work through the "Painter" app and produces what looks for all the world like a masterful oil painting. From there he goes directly to Giclee-on-canvas in a variety of sizes to order. In this way Don produces excellent work that looks like the oil paintings of E.I. Couse, W.H. Dunton, Dean Cornwell or even Vermeer, Sargent or Norman Rockwell.
To get some advice on this, I spoke to my trusted friend Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki. "This definitely requires skill," she said. "But the problem is with the images being printed on canvas. When you print digital art on canvas, it devaluates digital art and makes it cheesy and a 'traditional painting look-alike.' I like David Hockney's presentation on digital devices better. His ideas can be safely commercialized and sold as a digital file, which in fact they are."
"Perhaps," said Tatjana, "the value of work like Don's is in enabling artists to be more prolific and to be able to correct mistakes and make adjustments. One of the most constraining limits in traditional painting is that there's no undo button."
"Yes, but," I said, "are we not perhaps coming to a time when material can float in the clouds, just as it does in the brains of many artists, until it's needed by a consumer?"
That's when one of my other trusted friends, Joe Blodgett, chimed in, "You know better than that, dude; ersatz is ersatz."
PS: "Computers are another tool for the creative artist--just as a flat or filbert brush is. But there was a time when I left a jar of medium open by my work station for that painterly smell." (Don Lambert)
Esoterica: In the same way that 19th century portrait painters were disturbed and disenfranchised by the advent of photography, many of today's painters are in denial of digital. As Tatjana mentioned, there are other issues. On Friday, in a high mountain park, sitting on one of those bottom-warming cushions, I was attempting to keep my fingers moving in their fingerless gloves. Large flakes of snow were landing on my palette and the drip on the end of my nose was in constant need of becoming an icicle. "This is so wonderful," I said to myself, "I hope this will always be." Am I nuts? Who's in denial here?