I recently finished working on a bit of artwork. I had the idea of making one of those old fashioned, victorian era botanical drawings but to use creatures and colors not found in real life.

I finished the painting (my first ever watercolor) and was completely disappointed. I liked all the parts of it, but I didn’t like the whole. What to do, throw it away and start over? Maybe… Or – Photoshop it!

It’s my painting, I can photoshop if I want to… right?

Why do I feel like it is cheating?

Part of the problem is that I am old enough to remember a time before photoshop existed, when there was no magic tool to fix red eye, or to crop or blur. I can imagine that for people who’ve never known a time without digital art the distinction wouldn’t be as great. Another part is the world’s strange need to know what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake.’ Many have learned the hard way that there is no room for imagination in their works of art. If your memoirs aren’t completely fact checked, then beware the wrath of Oprah! The honest message you are trying to get across isn’t the point, it’s the color of the man’s tie on that day, at that hour that’s important!

I made up a picture in my head. A fake picture of fake things. I sat down at my desk, broke out my new tools and put that fake idea down on to real paper. I took that real paper and made a digital copy of it. It’s still real, but made of zeros and ones now. I pushed and pulled those digital bits, I added and subtracted ones to the zeros and zeros to the ones. All still real, all still done by me with the help of tools. Paper, paint, mouse, water, photoshop, brush.

Real or fake. You decide. But before you do, before you rip it to shreds, try to enjoy it first. See if it makes you feel anything. Because that is how I define art: A thing made by someone else that makes me feel something that I didn’t feel before. Don’t care how you made it, my feeling about it is all the real I need.

 

5 thoughts on “Define Art

  1. I guess you’re right but there is that small part that says it’s not quite that simple. You put data into the program and it’s massaged by the software and spit out to something you like. But you have no idea exactly what was done. So in a sense, you now have unknown contributors adding unknown content to your work. Just a thought….. I did like the painting though.

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    1. thanks for liking the painting, even though it was tainted by the hands of unseen developers… 😉

      What about the people who made the paint or the paper or the paint brush? There is certainly plenty of unknown content in that paint.

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