Digital Art

Digital art is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process. Since the 1960s, various names have been used to describe the process, including computer art and multimedia art. Digital art is itself placed under the larger umbrella term new media art.

My first experiments with digital art

For the painting called “Sacred Cow”, I started by doing google searches for clipart. I searched for images as detailed below

  • “snake-charmer clipart”
  • “Indian boy clipart”
  • “Giraffe clipart”, etc.

I use Photopea and Adobe Photoshop elements to rotate and resize elements. I edited the giraffe so that the head was rotated 180 degrees and the neck curved more acutely. I arranged the items within the cow so they rotated within the cow and also so that there was a rhythm. The rhythm conforms to an extended infinity sign. The idea I am trying to get across in a very subtle visual way is that all life is sacred and special and not just the cow. Furthermore, it has been and will be special for all time – hence the extended infinity sign. I put the image onto an A4 piece of paper and enlarged it. I printed off the four quarters and transposed them onto A2 paper. I then began painting

For the painting called “Neverending nonsense”, I used a computer to google search the following keyword phrases:

  • “Unicorn clipart”
  • “Happy fish clipart”
  • “Mobius”, etc.

I used Microsoft Word to ensure the unicorn filled an A4 document completely. I printed it off. I used Adobe Photoshop layers to place the bird wings onto the bus to look correct. I then began painting. I experimented with drawing to create the bus distortion and began painting. The Mobius was hand-drawn. I used the colors of the rainbow all over the picture to unify it. The Mobius is there to signify a) the neverending nature of the nonsense and b) to highlight the impossibility of Brexit.

For the painting called “The Sacred Cow jumped over the moon”, I set about trying to think of a way of creating an “anti-gravity” perspective and making it work with the body of the Sacred Cow.

This picture was inspired by the child’s poem “Hey, Diddle, Diddle” which contains the line about a cow jumping over the moon. I thought it would be interesting to create “The Sacred cow jumped over the moon” instead. The poem is about ecstatic happiness and that is why I chose to make it look joyous.

According to Albert Einstein, the shortest distance between two points in space is a curve. So I thought it would justify an anti-gravity picture where the curvature of the earth curves the wrong way inside the cow! I also thought this would be a good opportunity to use the “warp” tool as detailed below.

I created this digital art using www.photopea.com and Adobe Photoshop to combine the elements. I used the magic wand tool to delete any extraneous pixels. I used the resize, rotate, move tools and layers to get proportions relative and to ensure elements were correctly aligned, etc. The insides of the cow were replaced – so that it appears as if this image happens within the Sacred cow

For the painting called “What to believe?”. I looked at the paintings of Patrick Hughes and wanted to use reverse perspective to create a similar room design. I thus spent a lot of time calculating the two vanishing points, drawing the lines for the wall sections. I thought the room would make a good setting to question beliefs and superstitions, etc. My research included:

  • A clipart images of a skeleton, zombie and a devil, etc.
  • Icon symbols representing Buddhism, etc
  • Impossible geometric shapes (Hockney’s chair and far-left picture of an impossible geometric shape)

I then created the picture.

What have I learned from my experiments with digital art?

  • It is now possible to combine any art forms (Surrealism, Cubism, Impressionism, Outsider Art, etc.) into one artwork
  • It is possible to combine mathematical ideas such as the Penrose steps, Penrose triangle, and other impossible geometric shapes into a work of art and combine them with other elements such as figures, etc. By doing this, it is possible to create a sense of spatial ambiguity and uncertainty. This is useful in confronting strongly held dogmatic beliefs that are largely unquestioned (Sacred Cows)
  • It is possible to use tools to distort images, apply effects, and/or create perfect forms (ellipses, etc.). This can help create new spatial concepts such as the “reverse gravity” highlighted in the “Sacred Cow jumped over the moon” and “Rotational gravity” where elements rotate in a circular manner within the cow, as found in “The Sacred Cow”
  • Google searching for images provides an incredible source for human stimulus. I am thus able to quickly look at a vast number of images until I find something I like. I can then get ideas from it and use them in my artwork.

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Author: Piers Midwinter
I am an artist and a teacher. I am currently teaching at a Cambridge International School in Vietnam.