One of the best conversations I’ve had about art wasn’t with an artist. It wasn’t with an art historian, curator, or gallery owner, either. It was with a mechanical engineer. We went from discussing his latest design project to the artfulness of historical blueprints to Leonardo’s notebooks—and I think we may have even touched on Umberto Boccioni and Futurism.
|The City Rises by Umberto Boccioni, oil painting, 1910.|
Looking back on it, I’m not too surprised that someone with a scientific mind would be so knowledgeable about art. It’s become quite clear that art and technology share quite a few commonalities. Both are driven by innovation, experimentation, and observation. Trial-and-error is a cornerstone in both fields. Neither stands still for long; they are both ever-changing frontiers. So it seems natural that technology can lead artists in interesting directions, whether by making what they already do a little easier or by introducing new tools that help transform their process.
|Artist Jove Wang uses a source photo
to transfer his composition to canvas.
For example, digital photography means no more lugging around film, having the ability to see photos as they are shot, and being able to make adjustments in the moment. Computer programs of 3-D human poses allow artists to practice the fundamentals of rendering even if they don’t have a mannequin or aren’t yet ready to work from a live model. Software such as Photoshop allows one to manipulate photos, make color corrections, and play around with compositions.
It seems that technology, from the first metal oil painting tubes to climate-controlled studios, has a useful place in the art world, regardless of your medium or style. Allowing technology to play a part in your process is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Regardless of the source, artistic innovation always comes back to the artist—after all, a tool is only as useful as the hand that wields it. Taking advantage of technological innovations doesn’t elevate or delegitimize an artist, or make his or her execution more or less skillful. It is just another example of how an artist chooses how to paint or draw, and that choice is a deeply individual and creative right.
Building on solid technique allows artists to take their work in any direction they choose. Capturing the gesture and form of the human body is one such essential technique and if you are looking for resources in acrylic painting, drawing and sketching, or colored pencil, Lee Hammond's DVDs can help you, whether you are just starting out or want to enhance your skills.