Digital Painting - Craft or Trick

Hypnagogia - Gordon Coldwell

During a 30 year career in education I was an Art College Lecturer, Head of Art, Design & Media and college Marketing Manager. For 10 years ran my own Branding & Marketing business. 

When I was 60, my personal circumstances, in combination with receiving an iPad and Art Studio (£3.75) and Photoshop software packages as a birthday presents, I made the decision to make artworks full-time. 

I bought a worthy looking 'How to Use Photoshop' book with 300+ pages... I took it on holiday... and, no matter how many times I tried, I couldn't get past the first page. I then decided to teach myself through a trial and error approach. I am now 64 and still learning. It took me months of 'compulsively' working, at least 8hrs a day, often starting around 3am. 

Over time, I found ways of utilising the software tools to such an extent that I could consistently make images that were technically satisfying and, at the same time, utilised a recognisable pictorial language and had a personal mark-making identity. 

I have shared my work and had numerous conversations with artist friends, gallery owners etc. Some openly pose the question "Ah.. yes, very interesting, you work very hard and you have made so many 'pictures' BUT where is the craft in them?" You might guess my reaction! 

In my view, they fail to recognise the often sophisticated craft skills and hard work necessary to produce works of 'quality/significance'. Their appreciation, seems to me to be, at a level that credits the software with the capacity to deliver slick and complex images via some sort of rapid, 'easily done' computer trickery...... demoting and devaluing the role of the artist and the quality of the outcome in the process.

Didn't the invention of photography change the way artists looked at and thought about art?

I believe that technological innovation is a prime driver in cultural change.

Posted by Gordon Coldwell on February 5th 2019

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