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Thread: What is art?

  1. #1
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    Jun 2017
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    What is art?

    I am a traditional artist with health problems that have forced me to look at alternatives to traditional painting. Have been trained in traditional oil painting, which I have been doing over the past 50 years. Although I started as an illustrator in New York doing mostly book covers in fiction and non fiction books. After 6 years I became a freelance artist. Getting to my point, this program is great, allows me to work as if I'm painting an oil on canvas. But, I see the ability to simply complete a painting by going over a photo makes me think what is digital fine art worth? How do you tell if someone simply did it over a photo, or drew a sketch and painted it. Don't get me wrong, I see the benefit for the artists working in film and other digital art.

    I was discouraged when I tried just about every digital program available and saw how easy it is to produce a painted picture. Can you really sell original digital artwork, knowing anyone can paint over a picture?

    Can you advertise on your web site saying your a digital artist and be paid? My first painting took 6 hours to finish. When I loaded my reference photo and painted over it, it wasn't bad, looked like I painted it except I paint in a impressionistic style.

    Would like to know your feelings and hopefulling hear from fine artists selling their work. I am not getting thousands of dollars for my original work, but my originals sell between $600 to $1,200. With gelcee prints in the range of $100 to $250.

    What are your thoughts, would love to see a discussion in this manner. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Apr 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jrm4044 View Post
    I am a traditional artist with health problems that have forced me to look at alternatives to traditional painting. Have been trained in traditional oil painting, which I have been doing over the past 50 years. Although I started as an illustrator in New York doing mostly book covers in fiction and non fiction books. After 6 years I became a freelance artist. Getting to my point, this program is great, allows me to work as if I'm painting an oil on canvas. But, I see the ability to simply complete a painting by going over a photo makes me think what is digital fine art worth? How do you tell if someone simply did it over a photo, or drew a sketch and painted it. Don't get me wrong, I see the benefit for the artists working in film and other digital art.

    I was discouraged when I tried just about every digital program available and saw how easy it is to produce a painted picture. Can you really sell original digital artwork, knowing anyone can paint over a picture?

    Can you advertise on your web site saying your a digital artist and be paid? My first painting took 6 hours to finish. When I loaded my reference photo and painted over it, it wasn't bad, looked like I painted it except I paint in a impressionistic style.

    Would like to know your feelings and hopefulling hear from fine artists selling their work. I am not getting thousands of dollars for my original work, but my originals sell between $600 to $1,200. With gelcee prints in the range of $100 to $250.

    What are your thoughts, would love to see a discussion in this manner. Thanks.
    I tend to see art as a purposeful and selective creation by the artist which somehow expresses something of importance to the artist about the subject. It is not merely or even primarily a work of reproduction, it is something more. Works include style, impressions, color, exaggeration, subtlety, composition, form, subject matter, meaning, rhythm... this list is almost endless and unfortunately quite chaotic... others would be better at grouping and summarizing aspects of art. Art is something worth the artists time, in essence the artist is saying "Look at this. It's important" or has meaning, or is beautiful, or is ugly etc.

    In the end there is a piece of art on that surface or there is not. What matters is what is framed. Either it is more than mere random unselective reproduction (for example a photograph taken by a monkey with no positioning, judgment, or composition) or it IS more, and the artist HAS done something worth noticing.

    What the consumer of art values, is what is in the frame what he sees in it. If it does something for the viewer, if it makes him feel or think, if it means something, if he/she likes it then it is a value worth paying for.

    Make no mistake about it, for perceptual/sensory reasons, all things considered art produced by the process of painting with paint has an effect on the way an art work is perceived. If done with skill and purposefulness such techniques can be very effective. But it is the reality of what is in the frame which makes it effective, not the anecdotal knowledge of the viewer that the work was produced using some particular process no matter how difficult or historically significant.

    A compelling work is effective and meaningful as it sits there on the wall, regardless of how the Artist went about producing it, regardless of the tools he used. Of course a non-artist who simply randomly reproduces a meaningless snapshot of a trivial nothing, has not engaged in the exercise of art and rightly none or few would respond to it.


    In the end, I would have to say that the simple answer to "what is art?", is that it is what Artists make, artists who know what art is and are working purposefully and diligently to create it, no matter what tools they have chosen.

  3. #3
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    Just a few extra thoughts.

    Historically, it was difficult to reproduce reality and set it up on a wall to look at. So in some sense, amazement at the realism of an artwork was due to the nonexistence of photography. As an artist though, consider, is art merely reproduction? Would visual art never have existed if for some strange reasons we discovered photography before paint?

    In other words, even in a world of perfect cameras, near flawless 3d simulation/rendering, is art still important? Why is art important and meaningful? What about the composition of a landscape or scene draws in the viewer? What is it about the portrait that keeps the viewer enchanted by the eyes or the face of the subject?


    Computers can automatically turn a photograph into something which looks like it has been painted. That is not art. You as an artist should not worry about it. Find a process that you can work with to produce your art... and keep doing it!

  4. #4
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    This is a very interesting topic that really needs ethical exploring.

    Last week I posted an ArtRage image on a forum that I painted and it got favorable comments from other artists. But one of the artists asked if the image was painted in oils. I felt ashamed to reply because it felt like cheating - to me. It took just four to five hours to paint and is that fair compared to other artists that are still using traditional mediums that take days? And, they don't have Command/Control + Z to press or the other wonderful tools that ArtRage has.

    I too have Osteoarthritis that is impacting my hands and the ability to paint.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2017
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    I agree with all resondence. When you visit some galleries, I have always thought who designated this as art.

    When I was in art school, most instructors at that time looked at realism as being a dead art, without thought. That if you painted realism, you just wern't creative, that anyone can and you should just take a photograph.

    I guess most of us, maybe it's my age, but being an artist is hard work, no matter what medium you work in. After retiring I said I will never again create art that someone specifically paying me for. That from that point on, I'll only do what pleases me. I promised myself that I would not look to see what is selling and then do only that style. That's most likely why I can't make a living with my art.

    I enjoy painting with oils, when my grandaughter said to look at digital art. I did, and was fascinated with what I saw. I went out and bought an imac and downloaded 4 programs. When I stared with Artrave demo, I was amazed at the brushstrokes, amazed at the palet knife, and more so at the time I could save in finishing a painting. My guess which I keep some time spent records takes on average 14-16 hours. A similar painting using Artrage takes 1/3 the time. I love it, but again what is public preception of digital art in the constraints of fine art. I was hoping to hear from someone selling their work as a painting. I know that when I was an illustrator if this technology was available I would have jumped right on it. What a hell of a technology this is for commercial artists. But I still feel this technology hurts artists who create from scratch, when someone can take a photo and make it look exactly like a painting.

    I will not stop using these tools to paint, but hopefully I'm wrong, I don't see digital art showing up in fine art galleries, at least in the near future.

  6. #6
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    To me, the art lies in what the artist is communicating, whether it's a digital painting, traditional painting, photograph, textile work, sculpture ... Which medium that's used is secondary to me, even though I know that many artists create traditional work mostly to be able to sell originals. And that's perfectly fine too If the subject matter is interesting, it will speak to me, evoke some feelings, wonder, comfort or discomfort. Isn't art at it's core a means of expressing something? If a painting is photo realisitic, it still expresses something through the subject matter. Look at Tjalf Sparnaay https://www.tjalfsparnaay.nl/en - his work is most definitely photo realistic, but still he is recognised as the artist he is. He paints his photos, but uses days to figure out composition to communicate what he want's his paintings to say.

  7. #7
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    The word 'Art' define a lot. It's not really so easy to answer about this and find out the exact definition. But as far as I know 'Art' is someone impression which came out through his/her mind to tell everything.

  8. #8
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    Just like 'common sense' the term 'art' comes down to a personal choice to buy into a definition of the term based on a person's own decisions. People who hold traditional art up as the epitome and measure of whether something is 'art' or 'not art' will always do so. Just like common sense though, definitions and cultural meaning changes as the old dies and the current can define their own sense of what is. I've seen works of art in small galleries that were digital prints on canvas, alongside traditional oil paintings and acrylic paintings. The digital prints had hand painted flourishes and finishing touches to make each piece unique and 'touched' physically by the artist. These digital prints were being sold at 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of the traditional paintings, however there were 5 times the number of digital prints for each traditional piece, so the digital artist sold their work for less but made more money overall and more people could enjoy a physical copy of their art, which was only sold in a limited run.

    Personally I feel that painting directly over a photograph is still a cheat, colour picking the colours from the photo is something I think cheapens the act of crafting the artwork and might as well just be a photograph filtered to look like a painting by a computer, but again, that's my personal feeling and others will see it differently. When I use ArtRage, Procreate or Photoshop, when using a reference image, I will have the image on another screen and will draw my own sketch of the image and choose my own colours, working to imprint my personal take on the reference. I would like to reach the stage of being able to sell my digital art as canvas prints eventually, perhaps even finding a space to do some exhibiting, but first of all I simply want to learn, create and discover for my own joy, what I can accomplish using ArtRage as my tool of choice, I have no concern over whether someone tries to tell me it's not 'real art' because for me, it is.
    Last edited by hoodedrobin; 07-04-2017 at 05:22 PM.

  9. #9
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    Not bad definition. Thank you!

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