Paint or Compute?

In case any of you were curious about why a fine art painter like myself would also make computer art (and how I make it), I thought I'd let you know.


I call my current new media works "Computer Assisted Compositions" instead of "Digital Art" for several very important reasons. Primarily because the source imagery does not originate with the computer. I always start with one or more of my original physical artworks, usually two or more paintings (though it may be drawings or sculptures too) and take very high resolution digital photos of them. Through the computer, I then transform this data into a new "digital original" that often barely resembles the physical artifact(s) with which I started. The source imagery is always hand crafted using physical materials. (I also sell these original physical artworks, and although a great deal of time and effort can go into making of the digital images, I value the original physical artworks above them, much as a large oil painting is traditionally valued above a fine etching).

Under my direction, the computer's only function is to take previously physical assets of my making and "assist" me by color shifting, geometrically distorting, re-texturing, or patterning the source imagery. The computer therefore only assists my hands but never fully replaces them or my physical source artworks when generating an image. My process is distinct from the processes used by most digital artists and software developers at movie and media production companies, whereby the computer software itself often both generates and manipulates the data with increasingly less use for either physical artifacts or the virtues and (just as importantly) limitations of the physical dexterity of the human body. As a former art director, developer and software design program manager for Microsoft, I am fully capable of joining the ranks of these more purely digital artistic organizations, however my aesthetic sensibilities lead me elsewhere. I am not opposed to the use of the computer (quite obviously) to produce art, nor to digital advancement in general (and anyway, there would be little power in taking such a position in the world at its current state of digital evolution).

While I believe it is highly relevant and deeply meaningful for a contemporary artist to have a dialog with virtual tools, techniques, and processes, I continue to also paint, draw, and sculpt with physical materials. This is because I am passionate that my personal artistic evolution remain deeply connected to the physical world of human touch, with its infinite potential for a strong connection to the materials and processes of the natural world. Not out of fear of losing this connection but out of love for it.