Starting February 2014 this blog will be out of action.

But DO NOT DESPAIR. We've just moved, and you can still find the same riveting and informative posts that you have come to expect on our new blog:

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Oil: 26

Watercolor: 5

Digital: 37

Digital wins and retains the title belt for another season.

Or does it?

It appears that there were a number of issues and "voting irregularities" at the ballot box. An angry mob has been at my door for days and the press is calling for a recount.

The grievances are as follows:

First, some clever lawyers have counted up the votes independently, and have noticed certain "discrepancies" in the final tallies.
The reason for this is perfectly explainable. While the votes were being cast on the blog I also was receiving several votes through emails. Now, I realize that admitting phantom ballots which only I have access to could be considered sketchy but this is why I am in the visual arts and not in politics.

Secondly, many of you pointed out that the sparks and hot spots in the watercolor and digital piece were what pulled you over to digital, and that these effects could have been easily added to the oil piece. This is an excellent point, and I was remiss not to have included them in the oil.

Finally, a number of you wished to invent a 4rth category for digitally affected oils. (These digitally affect oils actually received 5 direct votes, and many more implied votes.) Many people suggested that if this category had existed it would have won out over its watercolor and digital counterpart.

Digitally affected oils is a very interesting idea to me. It seems like an excellent way of utilizing the best of both mediums while at the same time minimizing their respective weaknesses.

I will talk more about this later.

Back to the polls. The general consensus appears to be that

Oils seems to have the benefit of superior texture, beauty and as LuisNCT said, "oils supports a longer observation."

Digital for color, clarity and contrast.

Watercolor for the grit and the mood.

While these each have their merits, I would love to find a synthesis of all of these. And an airship full of all the treasures of ancient egypt. But a method that allows for a synthesis of all of these will do for now.

This brings me back to a digitally modified oil. I like the idea because I am still in love with blending classical methods and with modern technology. And one thing that has afflicted me as I experiment with oils is that people no longer see art in the way that they saw it 300 years ago. We no longer have to travel all the way to Paris to see the Musee D'orsay (which everyone should), or even across town to see fine art, but instead we now generally take in art through the glowing squares of digital media.

So if any of us decides to execute a painting and show it to the world, it is probable that 4 out of the 5 people who see that painting will view it through a monitor. The world is fast becoming predominantly digital.

So does this necessarily mean that images created digitally will have certain advantages over their traditional counterparts as it is disseminated to the culture at large?

Consider this example:

You may recognize it from a previous post.
This is an oil painting of the acrylic and digital painting from December. This time I did not paint directly over a watercolor as in the Doomhammer posts, but rather started on a new masonite panel and copied a new drawing over, and then executed the piece in oil over the course of a few days. It took longer, but I enjoyed the actual creation of it more.

What is frustrating however, is that the original piece has a luster that cannot be communicated by the digital copy here. The charm of the original is that when you look at it and see it from different angles, the various pits and nicks in the paint catch the light and give it a sense of depth. This is because it literally is made up of layers in space, which light passes through and before then bouncing back to your eyes, creating an effect that you cannot get any other way. The glazes give the shadows true depth and the highlights are actually closer to you in space and so appear even brighter. It is a dimensional object with a life to it that cannot be communicated through a digital image. I love this about oil and it seems tragic to lose it through digital copies. Yet, almost everyone who sees it will see it digitally.

But on the other side, the mere ability to display an image digitally is 100% certified actual magic. The technology that allows you to see this on your monitor is light literally being projected into your brain through your eyes. It is the coolest thing since the invention of fire.

This is a debate that has plagued me for some time, but I am certain that there is a synthesis of all of these out there that is worth pursuing. I also think that we are only just now beginning to really explore the possibilities in digital art for merging the classical with the contemporary with technology.

So that said, my next few personal projects that I hope to post up here will be experiments in the digitally affected oils.

Note: The best exploration and debate on the traditional vs. digital art topic that I have come across on the web can be found on David Apatoff's blog, Illustration Art in his January and February 2007 posts. It's worth a read.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

FFA DEATHMATCH: Digital vs Watercolor vs Oil

Its Battle Royal and the rules are anything goes. You are the judge.

Which of these do you like the most?




Note: Both the traditional pieces are being displayed as they were scanned in, with no digital effects, magic filters, or cheat codes in.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Doomhammer 2010: Digital Final and Problems with Labels

12 x 18
Watercolor & Digital

I label this Watercolor & Digital, but as was mentioned before, the watercolor label is a bit misleading, as I am actually using acrylic inks. Likewise, I feel like labeling this "digital" is also a bit misleading because I have not done any digital painting here.

Adobe Photoshop was originally conceived to be a photo-adjustment tool and not primarily as a digital painting tool. While Photoshop does digital painting very well, (and this years Spectrum Fantastic Arts will show that quite clearly) I find that Painter X feels more suited to digital painting. And over the years it has embraced this difference from Photoshop and developed its software into a quite exceptional tool for building compelling, traditional-looking images digitally. Meanwhile, Adobe adamantly refuses to really invest itself into the digital painting aspects of its software, focusing instead to continue to further develop its photo-adjustment and web-related aspects.
That said, I have begun to prefer playing to Photoshop's strengths as opposed to wrestling against its shortcomings. (For instance, why oh why Adobe do you have such drastically inferior color mixing and blending to Corel?) But what Photoshop does phenomenally well, is what it was originally intended for; and that is photo-manipulation. That said, I no longer feel like I am painting in the brush and canvas sense when I work in Photoshop. If I need to do that Painter X is the tool. But for adjusting a traditional painting to pull up the colors, adjust the contrast and to refine the lights and shadows, nothing out there can beat Photoshop and I love using it for this.
So this is probably about 5 hours of "digital-adjusting" over acrylic inks. But that seems like a far too complicated label for how it was done.

I say all this because I have received some flak from students at a few conventions recently saying that they thought it was watercolor this whole time because of what I was labeling it here on the blog, and that they have been trying to recreate the effects in watercolor and having a terrible time with it. I was accused of running a scam and spearheading an effort to undermine art education world-wide.

So I'd like to be able to be less misleading in my labeling if possible here.
Anyone know a better label for this type of painting that is correct and at the same time not confusing to people unfamiliar with the tools used?

And now, labeling aside, on to the next step:

I will be posting the oil version of this and a comparison of the 3 methods this on thursday. I will be sealing this acrylic and then working oil directly over it. I'm curious which of the three images you think works out the best, and looks the most visually interesting.
"Watercolor", oil or digital?

I look forward to hearing what everyone thinks.