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Thread: Why are we still Painting?

  1. #1
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    Why are we still Painting?

    This may seem like a trivial subject, but one that has bugged me a bit lately. I was a traditional media painter for a number of years before getting into the digital realm. And the more I use tools like ArtRage it seems like to refer to our work as a "painting" sort of misses the mark, and is a throwback reference to what is a simulated exercise. Digital image creation has so many more tools, and great complexity and the way you create color is as far removed from traditional painting as photography was when it was first created. Someone smarter than me should coin a new term for digital image creation, maybe they all ready have and I am just unaware of it. Does this strike any resonance with the rest of you? Anyway just my 2 cent observation of the day.

  2. #2
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    True… I suppose in the strictest sense of the word "painting".
    A dictionary entry might read;
    Painting:
    1: the action or skill of using coloured pigments, either in a picture or as decoration.
    2: an image created through the application of coloured pigments to a substrate.

    With digital we are deciding what colour light should be emitted from any given pixel instead of choosing pigments.
    So referring to it as "pixeling" might be a more apt name perhaps? But it conveys no meaning.
    As with most things people need a point of reference or a handle they are familiar with that requires little or no further explanation. And in this regard the word "painting" serves well enough. After all when hearing the word "painting" no one ever says "what's that then?" we just know.

    Though I do quite like the idea of referring to myself as a "pixelist"!
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw View Post
    True… I suppose in the strictest sense of the word "painting".
    A dictionary entry might read;
    Painting:
    1: the action or skill of using coloured pigments, either in a picture or as decoration.
    2: an image created through the application of coloured pigments to a substrate.

    With digital we are deciding what colour light should be emitted from any given pixel instead of choosing pigments.
    So referring to it as "pixeling" might be a more apt name perhaps? But it conveys no meaning.
    As with most things people need a point of reference or a handle they are familiar with that requires little or no further explanation. And in this regard the word "painting" serves well enough. After all when hearing the word "painting" no one ever says "what's that then?" we just know.

    Though I do quite like the idea of referring to myself as a "pixelist"!
    markw, interesting points I like the term pixelist as well. I guess we are "painting" with pixels , and I would not want to sound pretentious by saying a " digital imagist" but I do think eventually there will be a term to refer to digital image creation to separate that skillset from traditional media works, maybe a few more decades from now or maybe when we have flexible screens that take up a wall for a few hundred dollars to show our creations on!. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  4. #4
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    Not quite sure about the why and wherefore of this. Have traditional artists been giving you grief (as usual) and being from the Pacific Northwest, are you pulling a Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce Tribe who was famously quoted -- "I will fight no more, forever. . ."? (Los Angeles version is Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?" -- Incidentally, in both cases there was spilled blood before getting to that point.)

    That traditional Art thing vs. Digital is an old saw that keeps coming up. I don't think there needs to be an apology for doing Art any old way you want. . . if the process is expressing a vision. If someone is marketing the same art or about ego it can digress into a pissing contest, whether overtly or hidden. And no matter what you do, people will respond how they respond. You have less control over that than you do over yourself.

    Around 11yo I had just moved into a new neighborhood and I was trying to fit in. So I picked the older kid and at his behest we had a 'fun' fist fight where we were trading blows in and around the chest, shoulders and arms -- no faces, groin etc -- "just for fun". He, the older kid, was wearing football shoulder pads. I was not. What does that tell you about how it went? I learned a lesson. It was more an academic test of toughness on my part and I was new and wanted to make some friends no matter what. I was at dinner with my parents that evening and my mom was horrified at all the bruises running up and down my arm and when they asked if I had been fighting, I said honestly that I had not. They gave me a weird look and went back to eating.

    The point of that is that while I was playing around, I got a practical lesson. The other kid and I were certainly closer matched physically, and had it been more equal without gadgetry, the exercise might have proven something other than lessons in how to frustrate yourself and look stupid in the bargain. Going in to it I knew it would not go well, but it was a way to show I could measure up. All I really showed them was that I was kinda stupid. I mean, we weren't enemies or angry. Just we had different agendas. And because of the age difference, we didn't end up being friends. We went to different schools and all that. So "friends" wasn't on the table in any case. Plus I looked too much like the classic needy younger kid trying to get accepted, I think.

    Take that how you will in relation to your comment. I can see why they don't want to associate with digital artists. They would totally lose face and look incompetent very likely. . . and their moms would ask about the bruising. . . (no, wait. Scratch that last part about the moms and the bruising). . .

    So as to your idea, whether putting a different name to traditional and digital without saying 'traditional' or 'digital', would making a new category term keep them from letting you play in their Art world? I doubt it because at the end of the day the Art gets compared and more to the point artists keep a green eye on other artists. The only thing I could see as opening the door would be to do traditional art of you want to hang with traditional artists. Be careful though, hanging with them, in order to be one of the crowd, they're going to be looking to see how fast you're growing, or how good your stuff looks compared with theirs, no matter what you're painting with. And knowing people as I've observed, the human survival instinct will seep in. So you may get a lesson of your own when it comes to talking behind your back while they smile in your face. (Listen to the O'Jays if you want to get a witness. . . but I digress. . .)

    Find or build your own world and or merge with one that's sort of similar where you're playing the same game, or join their game and play by their rules and see where it goes. Honor that. But if you're true to yourself, even if you play with their game ball and their rules, you may not have to humble yourself just so you can meet them half way.

    What's more important to you at this point in your life? You have to ask yourself what you want out of your Art, or your retirement. And it's okay to want your art to be a social thing where you meet on common ground (ie. where are your priorities, as Wayne Dyer (RIP) had said in one of his lectures on finding who you are and customizing your life to match that). If it's to be social, own that, have fun with it, but just realize there's rules to every game.

    Changing to traditional painting may satisfy what you want your life to be producing for you. And within that, once you're accepted, you can start slipping in the digital ideas. Or. . . you can just hang with digital artists and the traditional artists either get it or they don't. I originally got into Art looking for a community. Personally, I was also sort of following the NASA space race kind of model as well. But in the earliest days they only managed to send one astronaut up at a time. Social stuff came later. But you're not a beginner. Haven't been for a long time. So now what?

    As to your original point, I don't personally think that traditional artists need to be coddled with subtle rhetoric or slippery jargon that skates the issue. You're an artist and there are worlds out there. Your call which sandbox you want to play in. There will be other kids playing there, very likely.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey View Post
    Not quite sure about the why and wherefore of this. Have traditional artists been giving you grief (as usual) and being from the Pacific Northwest, are you pulling a Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce Tribe who was famously quoted -- "I will fight no more, forever. . ."? (Los Angeles version is Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?" -- Incidentally, in both cases there was spilled blood before getting to that point.)

    That traditional Art thing vs. Digital is an old saw that keeps coming up. I don't think there needs to be an apology for doing Art any old way you want. . . if the process is expressing a vision. If someone is marketing the same art or about ego it can digress into a pissing contest, whether overtly or hidden. And no matter what you do, people will respond how they respond. You have less control over that than you do over yourself.

    Around 11yo I had just moved into a new neighborhood and I was trying to fit in. So I picked the older kid and at his behest we had a 'fun' fist fight where we were trading blows in and around the chest, shoulders and arms -- no faces, groin etc -- "just for fun". He, the older kid, was wearing football shoulder pads. I was not. What does that tell you about how it went? I learned a lesson. It was more an academic test of toughness on my part and I was new and wanted to make some friends no matter what. I was at dinner with my parents that evening and my mom was horrified at all the bruises running up and down my arm and when they asked if I had been fighting, I said honestly that I had not. They gave me a weird look and went back to eating.

    The point of that is that while I was playing around, I got a practical lesson. The other kid and I were certainly closer matched physically, and had it been more equal without gadgetry, the exercise might have proven something other than lessons in how to frustrate yourself and look stupid in the bargain. Going in to it I knew it would not go well, but it was a way to show I could measure up. All I really showed them was that I was kinda stupid. I mean, we weren't enemies or angry. Just we had different agendas. And because of the age difference, we didn't end up being friends. We went to different schools and all that. So "friends" wasn't on the table in any case. Plus I looked too much like the classic needy younger kid trying to get accepted, I think.

    Take that how you will in relation to your comment. I can see why they don't want to associate with digital artists. They would totally lose face and look incompetent very likely. . . and their moms would ask about the bruising. . . (no, wait. Scratch that last part about the moms and the bruising). . .

    So as to your idea, whether putting a different name to traditional and digital without saying 'traditional' or 'digital', would making a new category term keep them from letting you play in their Art world? I doubt it because at the end of the day the Art gets compared and more to the point artists keep a green eye on other artists. The only thing I could see as opening the door would be to do traditional art of you want to hang with traditional artists. Be careful though, hanging with them, in order to be one of the crowd, they're going to be looking to see how fast you're growing, or how good your stuff looks compared with theirs, no matter what you're painting with. And knowing people as I've observed, the human survival instinct will seep in. So you may get a lesson of your own when it comes to talking behind your back while they smile in your face. (Listen to the O'Jays if you want to get a witness. . . but I digress. . .)

    Find or build your own world and or merge with one that's sort of similar where you're playing the same game, or join their game and play by their rules and see where it goes. Honor that. But if you're true to yourself, even if you play with their game ball and their rules, you may not have to humble yourself just so you can meet them half way.

    What's more important to you at this point in your life? You have to ask yourself what you want out of your Art, or your retirement. And it's okay to want your art to be a social thing where you meet on common ground (ie. where are your priorities, as Wayne Dyer (RIP) had said in one of his lectures on finding who you are and customizing your life to match that). If it's to be social, own that, have fun with it, but just realize there's rules to every game.

    Changing to traditional painting may satisfy what you want your life to be producing for you. And within that, once you're accepted, you can start slipping in the digital ideas. Or. . . you can just hang with digital artists and the traditional artists either get it or they don't. I originally got into Art looking for a community. Personally, I was also sort of following the NASA space race kind of model as well. But in the earliest days they only managed to send one astronaut up at a time. Social stuff came later. But you're not a beginner. Haven't been for a long time. So now what?

    As to your original point, I don't personally think that traditional artists need to be coddled with subtle rhetoric or slippery jargon that skates the issue. You're an artist and there are worlds out there. Your call which sandbox you want to play in. There will be other kids playing there, very likely.
    love the story here D Akey, did not know you were such a tough guy, but I could have guessed ! . This really had nothing to do with Trad vs Digital is it art? which has been hashed over enough and not really a question anymore ( atleast in my mind ) . NO I was just feeling that referring to my images as "painting" evoked some process that I really no longer employ, even the way I think about my process and how I go about creating my works it totally different now . Although I do use traditional concepts like composition, color harmonies, to guide my work I don't think about painting "Fat over lean" if you get my point. I guess I just wondered ( since I have far too much free time to ponder such questions ) why Photography got its own name yet we digital pixelists have not!.. silly I know.. In the end creating an art piece that moves one and is true to its source is what counts, not what it is called. thanks for your comments on this

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gxhpainter View Post
    love the story here D Akey, did not know you were such a tough guy, but I could have guessed ! . This really had nothing to do with Trad vs Digital is it art? which has been hashed over enough and not really a question anymore ( atleast in my mind ) . NO I was just feeling that referring to my images as "painting" evoked some process that I really no longer employ, even the way I think about my process and how I go about creating my works it totally different now . Although I do use traditional concepts like composition, color harmonies, to guide my work I don't think about painting "Fat over lean" if you get my point. I guess I just wondered ( since I have far too much free time to ponder such questions ) why Photography got its own name yet we digital pixelists have not!.. silly I know.. In the end creating an art piece that moves one and is true to its source is what counts, not what it is called. thanks for your comments on this
    I hear ya. I think perhaps the only unifying thing from the super diverse tools that allow for the creation of digital painting is how the viewer is stimulated by the result. I mean, at this point, my cat, as initiator of something on the screen, could accidentally paint something cool because many programs are so fully automated or macro'd to do entire series of functions at the press of a key. Walk across the keyboard, win a prize. So in that dehumanized way, whoever owns the best program wins. And therein lies that end of the spectrum that makes traditional artists go give out a valiant yawn.

    So what would a term be. . . Interesting in the olden days when things were invented that the names they were given at the time frequently reflected the owner or inventor. And at that they are considered antiquated or even archaic. And they get dropped as new variations evolve. I say you should grab an etymologist by the scruff of the neck and force him to use his backward looking hindsight driven existence into projecting one forward to name a category for digital artist. Or you can use the time-tested method and have a contest and pick a winner.

    There was a radio personality who probably thought this one up ahead of time and had somebody call in (or pre-recorded a call that he played to top all the others who would call in) -- the question was he needed a word for the female equivalent of a 'Womanizer" -- ie they wanted to come up with a word for a woman who indulged in men a lot (use your imagination). The answer was too good, and clearly a set-up. There were only one or two calls with guesses. So seeing that this was going to be too dull and wasn't stimulating interest, he played the winner, which he had already in hand as the payoff -- and what do you think the word was? Slut? Trollup? Whore? Nymphomaniac? Nope -- all too pejorative. All 100% negative. And it didn't exactly mirror it. The winning word for a woman who indulged in men a lot was a . . . wait for it. . . a guyser!

    Come up with a name that sparkles like that and I think you may get some people on board with your new, hot off the press, name for digital painting.
    Last edited by D Akey; 09-01-2015 at 09:21 AM.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  7. #7
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    For my opinion, which I'm sure is valued (not), I've had a lot of experience with digital but am just starting my adventure in traditional media. Having said that...

    1 For me the feel of real paint and real brushes has a magic feel that tablets like Wacom can't duplicate. Though I like my Intuos it's not the same feeling of accomplishment that brushes or pencils give. Maybe that's because traditional media is still new and fascinating to me.
    2 I think it's important that traditional media and methods are kept alive lest (did he really say lest?) we forget and it's forgotten.

    The last time I kept an open mind,
    my brain fell out and the dog grabbed it.
    Now it's full of dirt, toothmarks, and dog slobber.
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  8. #8
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    I opine we live in a transitional period. In another generation, assuming we don't blow ourselves up, there won't be many people doing what we refer to as "traditional painting". And what we do now as "digital art" will have morphed and progressed to a place where what we do now will seem as antiquated as painting in caves. Before 2050, no doubt things will have progressed to where we can "think" a painting and watch it materialize in front of us as a holograph.

    Living in a transitional period, we are inclined to have feet in two worlds, with both emotional and intellectual tugs in both directions. The generation or two coming behind us won't have tugs for our old and antiquated ways, just as most of us don't have tugs to go on barefoot hunts in the jungle to catch and kill a warthog, skin and gut it, and roast in in a pit in order to eat it with our bare hands over a hot, sweltering fire, while we watch our backs to ensure a tiger doesn't jump out of the bushes and eat us for dinner. Times change and sweep us along without consideration for our personal inclinations.

    Meanwhile, it seems perfectly wonderful to absorb ourselves in those present practices that we find fulfilling, whether, with creating art for example, we are fulfilled using traditional tools or find inspiration and fulfillment embracing the new medias. Different strokes for different folks...

    ...so I opine. :-)

    PS for Gary: There do seem to be terms, which was your original question: "Digital Art", "Digital Painting", "Computer Generated Art" etc. Here is an interesting Wiki which condenses a lot of similar conversations explored in this forum about this topic. It illustrates the commonality of concerns and experience for those of us living through this transition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_painting
    Last edited by byroncallas; 09-01-2015 at 06:16 PM. Reason: spelling and stuff
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  9. #9
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    thanks for your responses, Gms9810, D Akey and Byron... you have all made good points, and I guess Byron is right given time I think the digital world will come more into its own. I mean even in the few decades I have been using it ( from first using Painter 2, and Photoshop to the current state ) there has been a tremendous growth in the quality of the tools and printing output capability. I laugh at my early works done in MS Paint and printed on an HP color inkjet. At the time I thought it was amazing stuff...

  10. #10

    I like to use the term "digital painting"

    My personal favorite is "digital painting" to separate my work from photo manipulation. Unenlightened traditional painters often feel that the computer does all the work, that no drawing and painting skills are needed and then there was that digital artist I knew, who made abstracts out of her photos, using photoshop filters. She kept referring to them as paintings, when I know some of them were created in minutes with a few different filters. I have no problem with photoshop filters, but it is painting techniques, it's photo manipulation.
    I tell people that the program handles paint, pastels etc, in the same way that the "real thing" works and requires drawing and painting skills, so therefore it is painting.

    I still enjoy the feel of real painting traditionally, and won't give up on it. However, I do feel I have more control with pixels, the unlimited undos, the ease of working on my laptop wherever I happen to be, and no clean up give me the opportunity to do more than I can with traditional paint. One of my students is taking a trip which will involve a very long flight and lots of airport connections and wait time. I suggested she take her laptop or iPad and paint, paint paint!

    Elaine

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