WEEKLY QUESTION No. 6 - Technological Aids

Jane is highly intelligent, and she excelled academically at school and college. However, she has poor hand-eye coordination and clunky fine motor skills, so her handwriting is a dog’s breakfast (she’s thankful for keyboards), and she was never any good at ball games. Nothing can be done about her physical limitations. But she loves art and has pursued a career as realist painter. She has no trouble selling her work. However, because of her physical limitations, she will never excel at freehand drawing. So, when she does her paintings, she uses technology to help with drawing.


Is that cheating? And, more generally, in your opinion, does, or should, the use of technological aids devalue a realist artist’s work?



  • ?technological aids?
    You mean projecting?
  • edited January 1
    Could be that. Could be a lot of things. Technology can be anything from a straight edge, to proportional dividers, through to projectors. To do anything other than pure freehand drawing is to use technology as an aid. 
  • I think that the answer is in the goal: either the final product or the work process. If one’s goal is the process, as many traditional painters have, then technological aids are “cheating.”  I am a final product person myself, even though I was traditionally, classically trained in two-dimensional art.

    If the goal is the pure process, then your Jane is cheating, and should give up her artwork, even if she enjoys it, sells it, and many people find value in it. If the goal is the final product, then she is fine. Most importantly, what does Jane think?

    Judge me. Condemn meee!!!  I and my technological aids and classical training sneer at such snobbery!!!!! 

    PS - Happy new years, everyone :)  

  • @Desertsky, I'm not a process purist either.  I don't think the goal is the process.  The final product, a fine piece of art, is the goal.  :)
  • @tassieguy - Yes. I read on this forum and other places how one "should" make art. Not everyone has time, talent (ability), motivation, etc., to do something in a particular way. It took me decades to realize that I was a snob about some aspects of two-dimensional design. It then was a rapid evolution into non-snobbery about design. Now, I am coming to terms with my snobbery about materials :)  not joking. 

    I taught art for years, and saw the joy the process brought some people, whatever the final product. I also saw how some had Ideas about Creating Fine Art and how these ideas stalled them completely. 
  • There are no rules

  • Jane’s painting will have a particular look and distortion if she projects the image.  There’s a different feel to the work.  It’s not cheating in any form or way.  It is what it is.
    If she observes and knows how to overcome those issues then her projection is just a fast way to get the cartoon down.  That would be no different than say using a grid, or proportional divider.  But she will always need to rely on the projection.   Unless she furthers her training.  
    There are many instances where you must use photo references due to time, weather, and other constraints.  For example, a sitter may only sit for a short time for a portrait.  
    But even then you won’t be able to achieve a good portrait with simple projection.  You’ve really got to know how to capture likeness and character.   
    There is so much more to great art than a simple projection and filling in the blank. 
  • edited January 1

    I love Norman Rockwells work, he used projectors.

    If its good enough for Norman then its good enough for Jane  =)
  • I think there is no cheating at all 😬.
    I have  used transfer paper , I tried the proportional tool, I used a projector app. I do freehand or copy anything I want to paint 🤷🏻‍♀️.

    It has helped me a lot . Using a shape that I may have transferred has allowed me to focus on getting my color right . Or just basic understanding on shapes . Shadows .
    We all learn differently . This is how I did it. And as I progress I rely more on myself .

    I don’t really care if anyone judges that . It has given me great joy and painting has allowed me to process my grief , or get away from it for a while . And what I created , people seem to like . 

    I feel that anyone who likes creating something and finds ways to express themselves is an artist . I know that that often offends people who have gone to art school and are “ officials “.
    They can do what they do and everyone has their own audience . 

    Jane should just do what she thinks is right and I’m pretty sure that of her art touches someone , it’ll sell either way.

    I would not not buy something that speaks to me , knowing someone used an aid .
    Good for them . 

    I take pictures of the pears I paint because they discolor quickly and I don’t have a shadow box etc etc . I don’t see that as cheating either .
    We create the way we create , no matter what we use , need , like to do , haven’t learned yet . 

    Happy new year everyone !
  • edited January 2
    Thanks for your responses, @Desertsky @Annie, @MichaelD and @GTO.

    I should point out that I (deliberately) did not say that Jane uses a projector. By "Technology" I meant any tool other than the medium and substrate; anything other than pure freehand drawing from life, whether that be with, pencil, charcoal or brush.

    It may be that some folks think some tools are ok and others not but, from the responses so far, it seems that people think that any technological aid is ok. GTO pointed out the distortion that photography can cause. I agree that we need to be cognizant of this problem and correct for it if we don't want the distortion to be part of the work itself. In Jane's case, technology is necessary because of her physical limitations. But I don't see any ethical issues with the use of technology even for people with optimal fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. However, as always, I may be wrong so, if anyone thinks there are ethical issues with the use of technological aids, I'd love to read about them.   :)
  • Folks

    For me it’s not about the journey, technology, destination or product.
    Jane is cheating herself by giving up on self improvement, denying herself of the satisfaction of achievement. I refuse to accept that ‘nothing can be done…..” . Eye / hand coord and fine motor skills and hand writing are all improved by practise and learning simple techniques.

    The experiential value of any artistic endeavour is diminished by technology. 
    By now I have done countless hours in life drawing sessions because I can learn and grow. If I had used cameras and tracing or projectors I would have learned very little. A live model, a piece of chalk and a wad of newsprint sharpens every skill.

    There are many disabled artists who complete beautiful works with a paintbrush in their mouth or between their toes.


  • edited January 2
    Thanks, @dencal

    It's not that Jane has given up on improvement. She works very hard at improving.  It's just that she has reached her potential and no further improvement in freehand drawing is possible for her. That's OK because, whilst she paints realism, her style is quite loose. She doesn't aim for photographic exactitude. 

    You say the experiential value of any art is diminished by the use of technology. If that is true then, experientially, the work of Vermeer and other masters who made use of the camera obscura is diminished. I wonder whether they felt experientially diminished.  I Imagine that many would argue against such a rigorously judgmental view and that it is the artistic vision, the idea, that is important and not the means used to achieve it.  

    Perhaps it's up to the artist alone to decide on the best tools for the job.  :)
  • Rob

    You say any art is diminished by the use of technology.

    The experiential value of any artistic endeavour is diminished by technology. In the context of my post this means that the artist diminishes his or her own experience by the use of technology.


  • edited January 2
    Yes, I saw that and was editing my post before you posted the above, @dencal. However your post got in before mine.  

    But, I think it's the individual artist who decides on whether the experience of producing a work is as rewarding as they would like.   :)
  • What I mean is that it's not clear to me how anyone could say that Vermeer had a diminished experience because he used a camera obscura. Surely only Vermeer could know whether that is so or not. I sometimes use grids for complex works because I don't do under-drawings other than a few marks with the brush. But I don't feel experientially deprived because of that.  
  • What about digital art ?

    I certainly don’t feel less artistic, creative or deprived by using aids. We experience rewarding feelings  differently . And my Artistic experience is definitely not diminished by using technology or any other aid . I find that quite a statement , around people’s personal experience … How could anyone make judgment about experiencing .. well… a human experience ?
  • edited January 2
    Yes, I think that's right, @Annie. Only the artist knows what he/she experiences and whether it is satisfying.

    And  I was thinking that it would only be a matter of time before someone brought up the subject of digital art which is almost entirely dependent on technology. However, the most important part, the creative part, the artistic idea, the artist's aesthetic vision, is in no way dependent on the technology. That happens only in the mind of the artist. And that will always be the case whatever technology is used. Artists have a vision of what they want to create and then go about creating it using whatever tools they deem appropriate. I don't see any problem with the artist using whatever tools they think are most helpful in realizing their artistic vision.  I can't help thinking that there's an element of snobbery involved in judgmentalism about tools.
  • CBGCBG -
    edited January 2

    Cheating requires a contradiction, between what is claimed and what IS or what is undertaken (promised) and what is actually done (performed).  One cannot cheat with integrity and honesty, and unless Jane is keeping her process secret or actively misleading her customers as to how she creates her art, or pretending to herself she is capable of or has accomplished what she has not, she is not cheating anyone including herself.

    That said, if she convinced herself she could not improve her skills with drawing when in fact she could then perhaps she is cheating herself.  Has she tried painting 20 foot wide mural size works?  Her difficulty with coordination would surely be overcome at that scale.

    If she is a self proclaimed “creator” or “artist” she need not even personally perform the act of painting.  A person could even instruct a guided robot to paint something.  There is no deceit if she claims to be the creator of art but to say one painted something or is a painter I think there must be direct human control… something guided solely by the person and not by software or technology drawing a contour for her.  A robotic arm would still qualify when guided solely by a person… and she could rightfully claim to be a painter.

    This may sound like sidestepping, but technological aids are perhaps best used for learning and checking, training one to see shapes, color, angles, etc.  and one day of no longer needed may be dispensed with.

    That said, something can be lost if the process departs from one of artistry and becomes technically a process of reproduction.  We have enough technology now to enable any sufficiently patient person to transcribe an image into paint.  One need only paint the million pixels of a digital image in the right color and position to reproduce what is seen on your monitor.  But is the act of literally transcribing an image into paint an artistic act?  Surely it adds no further artistry than that already present in the digital image.  In such a case a digital artist creates while the painter transcribes.

    So how much and what kind of process cheats the creator and viewer of the artistry which otherwise could have been present?  What novel brush strokes, manner of optical blending…. what aspect of the inner eye that looks right to the free painter could be lost upon slavish reliance upon technical reproductive accuracy or its methods?  What wonders of an off eye or a weird brush grip would be lost?

    Who knows.  Possibly that which could have resulted from avoiding the technical aid IS everything that makes art human, and that makes all the real difference in the world to each unique artist and their personally authentic vision.  

    Or perhaps, if it’s restricted … really only to that which is truly necessary for the creator to make art at all.. the aid can be that which makes  art possible…

    So IMHO some balance must be struck to avoid any deception or cheating of the customer, the artist, and the vision… the aid somehow should be authentic to the person as an artist..

    not as a photocopier.
  • How are you cheating if you’re creating something just in the way that you do it?
    It isn’t a secret And it’s also not something you need to share .
    If I create something , is it only valued , liked , etc when I share how I do it ?

    What artist shares or advertises how something was made , by which process ? I don’t see it mention on the cards in a gallery , or on peoples websites . That doesn’t make it cheating .
    The artist just created something and perhaps never ever thought about it being seen as cheating , diminished value or whatnot . They’re just doing their thing .
    I don’t feel obliged to share how I made something . Not because I’m ashamed of using a tool . Or worried about the price . 

    I make something my way . And people either like it or not .

    I am reading much “ if tools are used it’s not real art “ sort of stuff . Or like the person intentionally cheats if they have a proces that others don’t agree with . 
    It really doesn’t matter .
    I think what  matters is that you are being creative and do something you love and that it makes others happy too . 

  • edited January 2
    You raise an interesting point, @CBG. How much must an artist disclose about their methods in order to remain within the ethical circle. Is it enough that the artist doesn't lie about methods/tools? Or should there be a label on each work stating explicitly what methods/tools were used in its production?

    There is no law dealing specifically with this. It is conceivable (although I think unlikely) that certain consumer protection legislation and relevant case law could be construed to cover this issue.  However that may be, is this an area that the law should impinge on ?  Do we really want more regulation? Or should it just come down to what artists feel is ethically ok. 

    Potential buyers who care about this stuff are always free to ask about how a work was produced before they buy. 
  • I can't imagine many potential buyers asking about this stuff. None have ever asked me. I don't think they care.  I think it comes down to whether the buyer likes the work.

    Does anyone think that, having been established beyond reasonable doubt that Vermeer used a camera obscura, his Girl with a Peal Earing or his Lady at the Virginals would sell for less than previously or not at all?   Unlikely.
  • tassieguy said:
    I can't imagine many potential buyers asking about this stuff. None have ever asked me. I don't think they care.  I think it comes down to whether the buyer likes the work.

    Does anyone think that, having been established beyond reasonable doubt that Vermeer used a camera obscura, his Girl with a Peal Earing or his Lady at the Virginals would sell for less than previously or not at all?   Unlikely.
    And Van Gogh actually appropriated much art . 
    That’s not the same of course , but hey… 
  • There must be limits, set by both the artist and the target audience. And the audience can be different too: most will be fine with "fine art prints" bought at IKEA. 

    What about using a printer to put a grayscale image, processed to look like a painting, onto paper, and then glazing or painting over it? What about using a plotter for a similar start in much larger scale? Or, what was the name of that artist in US, who set up his art production in an almost industrial way, with rumours of having assistants to paint most of the subject and him doing only few final brushstrokes and signing?
  • edited January 2
    I once got chatting to a guy who was selling `artworks` on his stall. They were not the kind of works that I liked, old style hunting scenes in a field with rider on horseback kind of thing.
    After some discussion he informed me of his method, which was basically to print off a black and white poster, of some old painting by someone else (not well known artists). He would then paint over this printed poster with some colour.

    Ha ha, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I think I muttered something about dishonesty, to which he replied he could paint them from scratch if he wanted to.

    I had my doubts.

    His technique made painting by numbers look like a complex endeavour.

    I should mention the stall was at a car boot sale.   =)
  • Use whatever makes you happy
  • edited January 2
    @outremer,  both the buying public and the artists who produce fine work will have standards and these standards will be reflected in the market and in the artists' practice. In other words,  buyers and artists are players in a self-regulating art ecosystem that will get things more or  less right most of the time.

    People who mass produce copies of other artist's work, like the guy @MichaelD mentioned, are not original fine artists and their "work" won't be worth much. On the other hand, discerning buyers of fine original art will generally be content to let artists decide on which tools are appropriate. They will be mainly concerned with and willing to pay for the aesthetic qualities and won't be much interested in the tools the artist used. That seems to be roughly how it is and it seems about right to me. 
  • Okay, you got it. :) 

    What I personally see as cheating is that what is called giclee prints. Verbal cheating, not in terms of the effort or technology used. I find industrially produced copies of classics just fine. But I see no difference between well produced offset print and dye ink. Giving the latter a fancy label is not fair.

    Maybe one should give value to the object of art not based on the effort or technology but rather on the effect it makes? Art brings some ideals into everyday lives. If a cheapest  print makes someone happier, makes someone dream, isn't that the ultimate goal?
  • Yes, I think that's right, @outremer. Buyers are not going to pay for something that doesn't give them some sort of pleasure or satisfaction. I think that buyers can ignore criticism of their choices. It's no one else's business. How a work was created is pretty much irrelevant to most buyers. Maybe it's only purist snobs who worry much about it.  :)
  • Or maybe I'm missing something important here. 
  • There’s a difference between using tools and scamming people .. 

    Also : if you eat at a Michelin star restaurant, do you think that the famous  chef actually cooks your entire meal? 
  • edited January 2
    1. No: I'm not sure I've seen many paintings of realism made without drawing aid technology. For example, even holding your brush up and using your thumb to measure from the tear duct to the chin => technology. @dencal Denis are artists who do this diminishing their experiential value of the artistic endeavour? On the other hand if I didn't have a very full-time job and too many other hobbies and artistic endeavours or was decades younger and felt I had time I would definitely draw with fewer aids to develop my eye - just to show I'm not disagreeing with your point either.
    2. Painting without drawing: I learnt to paint without drawing. Nothing drawn at all. Even portraits. It was the tonal method I was taught. You paint a simplified tonal version of the painting over the entire canvas to start with - the major value shapes and edges. You then keep adding details and make adjustments - oh, that curve is too sharp. That edge should be soft... You end up with the drawing done and a very painterly product. It was magic like a lens coming into focus.
    3. Yes in some ways: On the flip side - there is no doubt that part of people's appreciation of art - mine included - is the execution of skill. I did my first oil transfer on this current painting because of the interminable number of precise architectural details. And in some ways i do feel lesser for it. But even if I'd followed my tonal method, I would have had to measure and stuff to get those precise details right or take forever. I'm happy with my choice. Painting transformed completely when they started using that curved mirror even prior to the camera oscura. Sudden leap in realism. This is brilliant:

  • Thanks, @Abstrction. Great video. IMHO, Hockney in right on the money.  :)

    Since this discussion has been fairly lively already, I might have a go at addressing the question myself before there's nothing left to say, even though I guess it must be pretty clear by now where I stand. 

    In short, I do not think that Jane is cheating.  And I don’t think that the use of technology devalues an artist’s work.  I find it difficult to take seriously purists who say that only freehand drawing and painting from life are acceptable. Since when? And acceptable to whom? I don't think the art loving public care. And many very fine artists don't agree with the purists. They feel quite ok with using photography and other tools. What are the purists gonna do? Call the art police?  And what about Vermeer and other masters who used the camera obscura? From what I’ve read, artists began making use of various lens apparatuses pretty much as soon as they were invented. Artists have always made early use of new technology? Maybe the purists would be happier if we were back in prehistoric times and just smearing ochre on cave walls with our hands instead of using those new-fangled brushes. Yes, brushes are tools, too. They were perhaps the first great technological innovation and a great leap forward in image making. 

    I think it's as silly to say that visual artists shouldn't use technology as it is to say that literary artists shouldn't use technology such as keyboards and word processors to facilitate their work. Just as it would be silly to argue that music is only pure and acceptable when played by live musicians to a live audience without electronic amplification. Where did the idea that the visual arts should be singled out and visual artists frowned upon for using technology?  It's nutty.

    At the end of the day, it is the artistic idea and not how it is realized that is important. In literature it is the story and the beauty of the writing we like. Who cares if it was written with pen and ink on paper or on a word processor?  In popular music it’s the song we like – it’s the melody, rhythm and lyrics that are important to us and whether it’s backed by on an electric or acoustic piano is irrelevant or at most, just a question of taste. I think it's the same with painting. The tools used are irrelevant. To my mind there are no hard and fast rules about technology in any of the arts.   

    But there is snobbery. 

  • The one technology that does matter. Photography. Are we rendering photographs? Are we using photographs as a inspiration to composition and expression? Using photographs to make unique photo compositions? How many of us create works solely from our imagination or memory? The tools of mind and hands are the most important. They create the uniqueness of a work. It doesn't matter what physical instruments we employ to make a unique representation. I think the most limiting tool we use is repetition. Not stylistically but in mind.
  • The photo realists wouldn't agree with you. I wouldn't want to do photorealism but who are you or I to say they are wrong to want to make paintings that are as accurate as photos?  Where is the wrongness? 
  • @Abstraction,
    I have had that book Secret Knowledge by Hockney for a few years, very interesting.
  • Photorealists went beyond the photo to a heightened realism that was beyond the control of f stops. The created unique hyper real compositions. More definition than the camera. Quite unique.

    Reinforcing my point.
    The tools of mind and hands are the most important. They create the uniqueness of a work. It doesn't matter what physical instruments we employ to make a unique representation. I think the most limiting tool we use is repetition. Not stylistically but in mind.
  • edited January 2
    I think the most limiting thing is for artists to get stuck in a purist rut from wherein the possibilities for innovation and growth are severely constrained. If you're stuck in the purist rut all you are going to do is to keep repeating yourself.
  • @tassieguy said

    “In popular music it’s the song we like – it’s the melody, rhythm and lyrics that are important to us and whether it’s backed by on an electric or acoustic piano is irrelevant or at most, just a question of taste.”

    Just to add to that and I think it chimes with this discussion there are plenty of brilliant and successful musicians who did not go to music school learn and stick to the methods of reading and writing music.

    It is the same in art.

    I was in indie bands myself in my youth did the people who bought our music and came to see us at gigs care whether or not we had come about creating our music by having previously attended music school.

    They didnt and we hadn’t 

  • CBGCBG -
    edited January 2

    We know there is plenty of technology which could be brought to bear with an amount and level of complexity which certainly would qualify as cheating.  On the other hand there certainly exist aids which can be used to an extent and manner which does not constitute cheating.  Here I do not distinguish between cheating oneself, cheating others, or cheating the potential for art, although they clearly are distinguishable.

    Because technologies and their use is so complex and varied there is no one answer to the question as to whether Jane is cheating based solely on the broad facts described. She very well might be cheating or she might not be cheating.  The only valid answer I can give is I do not know, and she either is cheating or not cheating.

    [BTW I am not for regulation but I believe in justice and meeting of the minds in contracts, and any interaction involving trade value for value.  Deception by intent or willful blindness is a form of cheating that transaction.  But I will assume Jane has no wish to cause in the mind of her customers any false belief about her capabilities or about the product she produces.]

    So clearly cheating with technology and not cheating with it are both possible.  It is inescapable that no blanket statement can be made about whether technology as such is always or is never cheating. IMHO

    So amid the variety and complexity where do we distinguish the line?  How different is it for cheating oneself versus cheating others versus cheating  the potential reality of art which could have been?  

    Once again cheating requires some form of contradiction, some kind of deception.  WRT cheating others, Cheaters NEED rules and a game to be played by those rules.  Why?  Because they rely on someone else (everyone else?) believing in or playing by those rules which the cheater can exploit and gain advantage by NOT playing by those rules.  Without rules one could not gain any advantage attempting to break them, since there are no rules to break whether unspoken or explicit.  So what is the game in painting, what are the unspoken rules?  Mostly they constitute the assumptions of viewers and customers.

    If I design a printer which uses brushes and paints and engineer a way to paint photographs, I could claim to be a creator or even an artist but saying I painted that or that I am a painter IS a deception in that case.  Remaining silent Knowing that others would assume I painted it is also a form of deception.  Shall I call myself a creator and stand silently next to my masterpieces as onlookers gawk and praise me for my skill?  Would the pang of guilt I feel be valid?  

    Ok but what about the work itself doesn’t it stand alone in isolation… does anyone care how it was produced?  Again, people are as varied (more so) as technology, some won’t care but some would.  Some people immediately think “look at that image” others think “ how did the artist paint that”.  Few (at least in the past) will think to ask “DID someone paint that?”

    There is some element of a moral and spiritual exchange, admiration, praise, being impressed which can be cheated and the monetary value aspect which goes along with it.  The act of deception defines the element of cheating.

    Im rambling again.  There are many issues and complexities here.

    I want to touch on some issues you raised with your analogy to word processing.  I think you may be making assumption about the technological aids which fit your conclusion that there is no such thing as cheating.  or The aids you envisage do not cross the line ergo crossing the line is not possible.  Imagine a word processor that not only checks spelling and obvious grammar but suggests alternative words… maybe even changing sentence structure.  Someday they will suggest adjustments to paragraphs, perhaps content such as characterization, plot, exposition, narrative voice…. soon we have computers creating generically worded short stories signed by unimaginative self proclaimed “authors”…. and perhaps there is some clue or inkling here of when the line crossed.

    When the assistance supplants an aspect of the artistry, tempts the creator to abdicate the artistic choices or the performance of an artistic act, the aid has cheated the artistic process, the artist and the art.

  • CBGCBG -
    edited January 2
    Imagine the following:

    I have a computer with two video cameras, one aimed at my canvas and one aimed at my reference.

    A relatively simple algorithm compares the reference to what I am doing on the canvas… 

    I could get basic feedback, binary greater or less than feedback, about the value of the paint I am applying… maybe on the screen showing black where it’s too dark and white where it is too light… with more sophistication the computer audibly says “that’s too dark” or “that’s too light”

    I could also get feedback on hue… again indications could be onscreen, and combined with value, say 30% or 70% and a color to indicate it’s too blue or too orange or too purple or too yellow or too red or too green.  I could have it tell me what I need to do to the color.

    I could also have a third camera on my palette… I could pick a spot on my reference and the computer could tell me whether the color i am mixing is too dark or too light or too blue, orange purple yellow red or green.  In fact I could have that system tell me simply what colours of paint i need to add and how much.

    I could also program an edge analysis algorithm.  I could point at an edge in the reference and it could tell me to bump my edge left or right, or to make it. sharper or more subtle… in fact I could have the software watch me draw or paint and tell me go more to the left, curve more downward etc 

    I could also have a projector controlled by the computer… it could provide feedback by projecting on the canvas and the palette… it could guide my strokes with a line or moving dot… it could show me where to put the brush on both the canvas and the palette and tell me when to press or lift…

    I could have it so that I only go through mechanical motions without any knowledge of what I am doing or why.

    Technology is amazing and what we imagine here will soon be reality… it will be possible to do all these things.  

    The questions are what will we choose to do, what will we choose NOT to do, and WHY.
  • CBGCBG -
    edited January 2

    BTW If I say something which is incorrect, doesn’t make sense, is simple minded or is simply wrong, please call me out on it!

  • Photorealists went beyond the photo to a heightened realism that was beyond the control of f stops. The created unique hyper real compositions. More definition than the camera. Quite unique.

    Reinforcing my point.
    The tools of mind and hands are the most important. They create the uniqueness of a work. It doesn't matter what physical instruments we employ to make a unique representation. I think the most limiting tool we use is repetition. Not stylistically but in mind.
    The last few years I have discovered multiple limitations of the camera. The way it handles darks - whereas the eye can see more nuance in caves, shadows. The perspective distortions of many lenses such as fish eye, etc. The perspective distortions of all lenses - especially things on the periphery and in particular the way the camera distorts curves. Bokeh - that single point of focus and blur - is very attractive. Yet it is rarely the way we really experience what we see - and we have learnt to accept it without question in paintings. No-one truly sketching would blur like that. We see all detail at the centre - we have to and do move the eye to observe or sketch and the eye adjusts. Colour - never had a camera that with my skills didn't distort colour (SLRs, DSLRs, smartphones.) My seascape i took multiple photos fiddling to capture as close as I could to the true colours of different aspects I was experiencing for reference because the main photos I took colours weren't interpreted that way. Then there's camera displays, laptops, printers... often not even close to each other.
  • I'd only say anything was cheating is there was deceit involved. the increased accessibility of art through technology is a really great part of the modern art world! it would only be wrong is "Jane" lied about her process, just as it would be wrong for me to say that i had done a painting en plein aire when it was painted from a photograph.
  • @Abstraction
    Yes photography can be challenging. Having high quality equipment make things less distorted. Understanding color from camera to print can also be challenging. The solution can be the same. Good equipment. But equipment isn't everything. Learning the tedious processes to make digital imagery work for us is essential.
    We should not be able to distinguish a painting done from a photograph vs life if the artist is skilled at working from photography. It takes a lot of concentrated time to get there. 
    Having to deal with a lot of the Digital Age's constantly changing techniques and standards is a nightmare. But it does beat standing in 2 feet of snow with frozen paints and brushes. 

  • edited January 3
    Thanks everyone for your interesting and insightful comments. They have made this a lively and interesting thread.  :)

    @CBG, I like your thought experiment and I think it shows that cheating with technology is possible. As you say,

     "When the assistance supplants an aspect of the artistry, tempts the creator to abdicate the artistic choices or the performance of an artistic act, the aid has cheated the artistic process, the artist and the art."
    So, yes, it's possible to imagine getting machines to make all the decisions and to physically paint the whole picture. That, to me, would be cheating if an 'artist' then tried to pass it off as their own artistic creation. No doubt this sort of thing will become the subject of litigation in the not too distant future. Proponents of this sort of technology may argue that they themselves wrote the algorithms and the "artistry" resides in those algorithms which they wrote and that therefore cheating is not an issue. However, it's not clear to me how this argument would work if you just took technology that was created by others and cobbled it together into a system that could produce paintings. 

    With respect to photography, I think @Abstraction is correct. There are all sorts of deficiencies and problems and artists must be cognizant of them because I don't think good painting is just about making an accurate copy in paint of a photo with all it's flaws and deficiencies. To my mind, that would be pointless and boring. It's the things that painting can do and that photography cannot do that make paintings special. But that's for another discussion. 

    I like @StephanHM's take on the question, too. I think there must be deceit involved for cheating to occur. For example, I think it would be cheating if I said one of my recent snow landscapes was done entirely en plein air. I certainly did sketches and took colour notes in the field but it would have been physically impossible to do the works completely outdoors and it would be wrong of me to say or imply that they were so completed. And if anyone wanted to know how I did them I'd be only too happy to tell them how the painting was made. However, I think most people would realize that artists almost always complete large landscapes in the studio and that they could not have been completed entirely outdoors so I do not think it necessary to attach a label to a painting that states explicitly how and where the work was made just as I wouldn't bother attaching a list of all the pigments used. I don't think people care. At none of my shows has anyone ever asked me whether a landscape painting was done entirely outdoors. But, if they are interested, they will ask, and I'll tell them how I made the painting. No deceit. No cheating. 

    And, finally, I should have added in the question that Jane makes no secret of the fact that she uses technological aids to help overcome the disabilities that make drawing problematic for her. And that is another reason why I don't think her use of technology is cheating. 

     Thanks again, everyone. I'm sure there is lots more that could be said on this topic so if you have not yet commented, please don't hesitate.  :)

  • Jane turns out to be quite awesome 
  • Annie

    wait ‘til you see Tarzan =)
  • Dencal,

    Not impressed😁
  • This is barely on the topic but if i may add, i think that all mediums should really be judged separatelyaccording to the abilities and limitations they all possess.

    For example, in my digital work i can draw an eye or a hand at any scale, anywhere on the screen, and then afterwards shrink, enlarge, move, rotate, or manipulate it in all sorts of ways so that it is the correct size, shape, and location. So id say one of the main criteria when judging digital work is the quality of the editing done to the picture. Since any drawing mistakes can be altered at any time with the software, its a standard that digital work is held to. 

    It was a bit of a shock to me when i began to draw and paint traditionally again after years of purely digital work that you really do need to draw things ALREADY in the correct place and size. Ive spent hours repainting something 2mm to the left that i could have fixed digitally in about 5 seconds! Its way more important with traditional mediums to get it right the first time haha

    It took months of practicing trditionally for my immediate undo button reflex to subside.
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