When you think of art of what do you think? Would you think of an oil painting, a drawing, or even a sculpture? What makes art what it is? Well, Ad Reinhardt, a painter in the early 1900's, says, "Art is art. Everything else is everything else." It is the creation and recognition of art that is important. To most, art is the painstaking process of stretching canvas, mixing paints, and hours and hours of tedious brushstrokes.

Today I'd like to share with you another fairly new approach to art, and more specifically, to painting. I myself have been an artist since I could pick up a pencil. Within the last few years, I have discovered digital painting. This new form is the source of much criticism from traditionalists. Digital painting is a fairly new technique that earns its place among other techniques, requires just as much talent, and has the same technical process as any other traditional art form.

First, let me shed some light on exactly what digital painting is and the tools needed.

What is Digital Painting?

Digital painting is traditional painting techniques such as watercolor, oils, impasto, etc. re-created using digital tools by means of a computer, a digitizing tablet and stylus, and software. Many of the same qualities of traditional media, such as oil paints can be achieved digitally.

What Do I Need?

The equipment needed is of the utmost importance when pursuing an art form such as this. The single most important piece of equipment is of course the computer. Most new computers can easily handle all applications needed. The second most important piece is the digital tablet and stylus. This is the heart and soul of the painting process acting as both brush and as canvas. The most trusted brand name available is Wacom. I use a Wacom tablet that measures 6 x 11".

Lastly, proper software is needed in order to utilize the tablet and its functions properly. These include Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and many other such popular digital aids. One of the most popular, and the program I use, is Adobe Photoshop.

Students can purchase Adobe Photoshop and a tablet for a very reasonable price. Both Wacom and Adobe are very good about their student discounts.

Typically when someone thinks of a computer and the digital process, they imagine most of the work is being done for them. Thankfully, this is not the case. One cannot simply input information into the computer and poof and image that you imagined appears. One still has to exercise proper technique and control in order to effectively use the tools that are in front of them.

In other words, you still have to be an artist! Remember, in the end it is the paint and canvas that change, not the artist.

There are many advantages over traditional mediums. Here is a couple:

  • The need to stretch canvas is indeed eliminated as is the proper mixing of color and purchasing of expensive and consumable paints.
  • The ability to correct mistakes on the spot with the simple click of your mouse.
  • There are literally thousands of tutorials online that can help you expand your abilities for free!

With this newfound knowledge of digital painting in place I hope to have opened your view to the subject.

Next time around, when you think of art, hopefully digital painting will be included among the ranks of the more established traditional methods. Digital painting still has its own painstaking processes, albeit cleaner and maybe initially more expensive. However, the savings over time are enormous.

I urge you all to try new things, and who knows, maybe even digital painting.