Medium vs Method - Digital Painting

I thought I'd address this for the record, because it comes up a lot. People often ask me what medium I work in, or they make assumptions that I only ever work in oil or only ever work digitally based on one image they've seen.

Here's the facts: I am a fine artist trained in classic mediums like oil, egg tempera, silverpoint, graphite and watercolor. I'm also a graphic designer who adores her Mac. A few years ago I started painting digitally, I LOVE it.

Today my body of work is comprised of oil paintings, acrylic paintings, watercolor paintings, colored pencil paintings, silverpoint drawings, and graphite drawings and digital paintings. They were all made the same way... with my hands.

I would love for more people that have a bias against Digital art to understand that 'It's not the medium, it's the method that counts'.

I've never liked or disliked an artist's work based on the medium they worked in. I think that's just silly.
And I think people don't realize that many "new" mediums went thru a time period where they were considered base or inauthentic as creative mediums by the status quo snobs of the art world. Watercolor was considered the "surveyors medium" for ages and many galleries STILL won't accept pastel or colored pencil paintings.

(On a personal level it is mildly distressing when people praise my art works in "traditional" mediums and then proceed to malign digital art seemingly unaware that I also work in that medium. It's offensive, a weird sort of art bigotry that I'm just tired of.)


I'd like to challenge those that "don't like" digital art to dig a little deeper into why they feel that way. Why blame a medium because you don't care for  a particular artist's style? Why don't you simply identify that you don't care for that painting, or that artist's work? Why malign the whole medium? Why make assumptions about how all digital art is made because on one occasion you didn't care for what you saw?

I think part of the negative bias is because of a perception that it's "easier to cheat" when painting digitally - or the idea that there exists a "make a pretty picture button" in the various digital painting programs.

Again this idea is confusing the medium, with the method. First let me state that the only thing I consider "cheating" in art is lying about your techniques or stealing. Other than that I don't give a flying fig HOW the art is made. Just as I don't care if you swept your kitchen floor with a broom or if you sat there and picked every crumb up off the floor yourself, either way if the result is satisfactory that is all the matters to my eyes.

But some people do care how the art is made. (In fact some people care so much there is a whole movement about this called Process Art)

My personal opinions on the idea of "cheating" aside - I think the issue that some people might have with digital painting is that digital art has an "Image problem". People have the false idea that traditional mediums are more pure, harder to master or harder to cheat at. They think that digital paintings are all made the same way and are easier to do. This is just not the case.

I work harder and longer when painting digitally because I can. I paint the same way I always do. I sketch an idea, I acquire reference photos if needed, set up my color palette and begin painting. I lay down a ground color, fill in my base colors and begin painting light and shadow building depth as I go.

It's just no different, except there is an undo button, I can paint in layers, and I don't get physically ill after hours of exposure to turpentine. Yay! Because of the flexibility of the medium I find I spend longer on each painting, I challenge myself to take the image further, add more depth, more detail then I ever would consider when painting in oils.

Lastly…guess what? If the method is important to you - if you need to believe that the artist "didn't cheat" (whatever that means) when they drew that drawing… then you are in for a disillusionment. It's just as easy to "cheat" with traditional mediums as it with digital mediums.

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