Thursday, January 28, 2010

The computer as painting tool - an argument

Lost in the Forest (digital sketch)

©2010 Caroline Roberts

For some time an argument has been going on in my head between the two halves of my brain:

Left Brain: You can't use the computer to sketch with, that's Cheating.

right brain: Huh? But it's fun.

Left Brain (getting down a "Manual of Painting" full of checklists and rules): See here, Leonardo ground his own colors, Picasso used tube paints so I guess you can, but he definitely did not use a computer. He sketched. It's meant to be Hard Work.

(Left Brain really loves capitalizing things)

right brain: Yes, but didn't the Impressionists leap on the new chemical colors while the Paris Salons argued that it just wasn't right to have color in paintings instead of sludge brown? And you like the Impressionists right?

Left Brain (pouting): That's Different. Computers are Cheating. They're mechanical, not intuitive.

right brain: So, art should be intuitive but it has all these rules. Yeah... I'm going to work on the computer anyhow.

Two hours later...

right brain: See, this is cool, and fun, and totally intuitive. I did draw that, just with a digital pen and all that moving stuff around and adjusting things - that is not mechanical.

Left Brain (sulking now): It's Cheating.

right brain: I bet you think I should really be painting by candlelight in a dark cave with fingers and ground up dirt.

Left Brain: Now you're being sarcastic.

right brain: Yup.


  1. Art versus Craft and does technique matter.
    The Factory versus the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
    I have never been able to put anything together on this subject that was worth reading.
    For what my opinion is worth well done.

  2. I love the transparent shapes. Unless you told me I probably wouldn't know if Lost in the Forest was created digitally or traditionally.

  3. A comment from Kate arrived by email:
    "Interesting right and left brain argument!! How about David Hockney? He used a computer graphics programme many years ago when they were first coming in and obviously relished it. Don't know whether he still uses computers to paint!"

  4. Throw it all out and start over!! (perfidious inner editor)

    You're hysterical. Just paint it, already; mouse, brush, drumstick, what difference does it make. (sarcastic, preadolescent voice prepared, as always, to argue with inner editor)

  5. I agree with Anonymous: what difference does it make? My guess is that way back in pre-history, painters began as storytellers who couldn't tell their tales without visual props. :-)