Many artists work using computer programs. Perhaps the best-known art program today is Photoshop, and there are other top of the line programs like Corel Painter being used, too. But simpler, more inutitive (and cheaper) programs now exist (Sketchbook Pro, ArtRage) that allow an individual to explore the digital world. Cartoonists, illustrators, book designers, and other graphic artists make images digitally, but "fine artists" generally do not.
Something like the old and artificial division between fine art and commercial art, there is a division between digital art and traditional art. Some digital artists or graphic designers learned traditional methods in school, but in recent years many did not, prompting at least some critics to decry the trend, suggesting that without exposure to traditional methods and techniques, graphic artists are handicapped unnecessarily. Still, digital methods continue to flourish in commercial applications and settings. In contrast, the traditional art world has had little to say about or to do with digital art. Maybe that's because these works haven't much value as investments.
In the past few years, the "art world" has begun to notice digital art, sort of. David Hockney is a traditional painter and printmaker whose images made on smartphones or tablets prompted a rather large, traveling exhibition. The pictures began as scribbled images emailed to various friends. In interviews, Mr. Hockney has noted that in a short few months he had sent several hundred pictures. At that point, someone decided to exhibit them. They were printed in very large formats and displayed like proper paintings, or shown on iPads or on large monitors hung on gallery walls, achieving great acclaim.
Here are some examples of his digital works:
|Examples of David Hockney's digital images|
Although it's a great thing that digital work has begun to merit attention from "serious" art critics and writers, in this case their attention is misplaced, in my opinion. Someone without Mr. Hockney's fame would have been hard-pressed to have digital pictures of this quality shown at all, even to family. This isn't to denigrate Mr. Hockney as an artist. His works in tangible paint are interesting for content, style, narrative, and considerably more. The best one can say about his digital work is "interesting." At its best the level of accomplishment here approximates that of a beginning art student who is learning to draw and paint. At worst it looks like the finger paintings of a 10 year old. The pictures are composed well, as one would expect of a good artist but his use of the program(s) in question suggest that a great deal remains to be learned. Still, kudos to Mr. Hockney for his exhibition.
|"Sky Kings" by Derek Zabrocki, 2015 (from Deviant Art)|
|"Study" by Elena Berezina, 2015 (from Deviant Art)|
|"Standing Guard" by Pascal Campion 2015 (from Deviant Art)|
Finally, at the bottom, I've shamelessly included a digital image of my own, done to emulate the technique of ink and wash, which is what I often do at art festivals and sometimes as watercolor postcards to friends and family while I'm on vacation. In this case, I did "Bacchus" for practice while learning to use a program called Sketchbook Pro combined with a pressure-sensitive tablet. Digital sketching is fun because you can change things literally at will while still preserving the best ideas. And it's convenient, quick, and easily used, if you have a tablet or a smartphone. These past couple of years Sketchbook Pro has been my main program, although I've dabbled in a couple others, including Brushes, Art Studio, Gimp, and ArtRage.
|"Bacchus," by Gary Hoff 2013|