Saturday, June 16, 2007

I bought a tiny sketchbook.

I've only been at this game for about three years, and all my work has been done digitally. I've faced some criticism for not working traditionally (mostly from people who can't stand the idea of working digitally, go figure). I decided to buy a little 4.5"x5.5" sketchbook and some brush pens in an effort to see what all the fuss was about.

Initially, I was skeptical as to the usefulness of practicing in a medium that I don't produce my work with. All my skepticism was soon brushed aside as the ability to sketch whenever, wherever, and with no worry of lugging a tablet around was revealed.

I don't plan on ditching digital for my pencils and inks during final pieces. The ability to undo, cut objects out and move them around to tighten a composition, and the speed of creation can't be beat.

I do, however, intend to make notes, thumbnail, and generally document the early stages of my process with the sketchbook. It makes coming up with new work a lot easier for me. Sitting in front of the computer might not be the best way for me to work on new ideas. I found myself coming up with about twice as many pieces/hour with the sketchbook

The following pages are from my first day of trying out brush pens. Lots more thumbs were created, but I just wanted to give a taste of my new process - ballpoint pencils, brush pen inks, and, later, digital recreation.








Human Mollusk said...

These are really cool, Ray! I like the red and black thing you're doing there.
I don't get the whole traditional/digital controversy. Do whatever works best for you, the medium is inconsequential for the quality of the work.

Aeron said...

I found it bizarre that you weren't already used to working in traditional mediums. Your drawing skills transfer quite well to paper just the same though. Digital art is still in its infancy and I'm sure it will still be many years before a lot of the negative people are brushed aside, or die, or whatever it takes for new mediums to become as standard as others. I'm sure photography, print making and other newer forms of artistic expressions went through a similar phase. I'm excited about the future possibilities of direct contact with the computer screen as a surface to manipulate artistically. That Microsoft surface or whatever it's called is the first step in that direction. For an example of what you can do, it allows you to pick up a regular paint brush and press it against the screen where it will register the brush density and lay out digital paint as you push it across the screen, very cool.

Anyway, it's a good idea to fuse traditional media with your digital skills. Scan in your drawn sketches and rework them, you're bound to get different results than from only working on the computer screen.

SEAN said...

I suppose in the end, it comes down to what you do with it, but i'm still pretty much against digital art in general. (i'm against most art in general too, so keep that in mind). Because i don't have the old time gear to do mechanical separations & printing, nor am i particularly interested in doing etching, screen printing, wood cuts, etc, i use photoshop to throw in color for things that i want to just have straight up color blocks. Also, for basic graphic design, because the gear for that is also not readily available or cheap. But, as a tool for painting, inking or anything else that should have the mark of the hand, i just don't like it. I'd prefer to not use a computer at all honestly.

Ray Frenden said...

I tend not to understand the advantage of being a Luddite when it comes to art. Each stroke is still created via a pressure sensitive stroke the same way as when I work by brush - it's so similar, in fact, that I was able to create the same volumetric halftones that I do digitally my first try with a brush pen.

Aeron, I've read a bit about surface. I'm admittedly a bit of a computer geek, so I am equally excited by the input possibilities of multitouch displays. Apple has a few patents in that area (see: iPhone), so I'm hoping for a tablet in the next couple of years that fulfills the promise the technology holds. Man, the screen reading individual bristles would be great.

Fufu, I agree entirely with your point.

SEAN said...

Ray, the thing is, your open attitude towards the computer & visuals fits with your attitude towards your work. "There's not much I won't make a picture of for money." Don't get me wrong, i'm not coming down on you, it's more of a philosophical & cultural thing. Eventually the computer will be able to produce facsimiles of everything in the real world, but i would argue that they will remain merely facsimiles. This of course is going to be an enormous cultural argument for many years to come.

Ray Frenden said...

The former statement is true when it comes to the jobs which fund my personal pieces and is not a philosophy that embodies all my works. It was meant to be a tad tongue in cheek.

I understand your position and in no way feel like I'm being come down upon - I do find the conversation interesting, though, because I tend to encounter people who feel the same as you all the time.

I think the argument is more valid when it comes to, say, a painting, where the texture of the piece can be really important than my style of work, lineart. The number one concern of most my freelance work is the crispness of reproduce-ability. IE: will the magazine/shirt company be able to use it? The only thing that digital has to do right there is a create a clear line.

Aeron said...

I was in Best Buy recently and noticed the digital picture frames they have which I thought was kind of bizarre. You can have digital art in its original back lit form on display like a regular piece of art. That opens up some new options for the regular static art in the wall. You could introduce a shift in color through the day or some sort of animation in the picture. Something that I'm really looking forward to with digital art is the advancenment of flexible lcd screens. Check this out -

With technology like that advanced enough the clothing from Neuromancer will become a reality. That is, clothing that can be a visually animated surface. This is also going to make digital art become something that you can have immediatly on display in a proper print like form but independently lit on your wall. I imagine you'll be able to buy large flat screens the thickness of paper to have on your wall like a regular work of art but be able to transfer to it art you get off the net. So you make something digitally, or just scan it, upload it and instantly it can be hanging on the walls of millions of homes the second you've put it online. Another idea with that is to create an art ipod out of the screen, have albums of art that cycle through over a period of time.

And I'm really looking forward to a digital workspace like surface for my digital art. I'd love to be able to drag and drop photos around like they were actually sitting on a large desk space instead of having to go through dozens of open files that are layered across my computer screen! I work with hundreds of bits of imagery on single digital images so that really starts to drive me insane.

So far as an argument for or against digital vs traditional, they each have their advantages against the other and my techniques are deeply rooted in both. So I can't take sides. Paintings will always have a surface that digital art will never be able to emulate and physical art will always be bound by restrictions that digital art can bypass.

Ray Frenden said...

Those hopes are very nearly mine and my attitude towards the medium is really similar.

SEAN said...