Why I Started Painting Again - Digital Art vs. "Real World" Art

13 reasons why I started to paint the old fashioned way again:

Fifty years ago I knew I wanted to be an artist and my parents knew it too. If I didn't get my box of 64 Crayola Crayons for Christmas they were greeted with a crestfallen little artist in the making. No matter what else they might have given me or whatever Santa might have dragged down the chimney to stuff into my stocking if I didn't get my crayons it just wasn't Christmas!

I've spent all of my life with some form of art utensil in my hand, from crayons to pencils to brushes, and I have lived my life creating things with my imagination and my hands. In 1996 I got my first graphics software and became enamored of what could be done on a computer IF (and that's a big IF) you were an artist.

After I had to retire from the art shows because of back and hip problems I stopped painting "real world" art and concentrated on digital art. I love creating on the computer - don't get me wrong - I still love it and it's now my main creative outlet but I found myself missing the feel of a brush loaded with paint. The vibration of a pencil across paper and the sheer sensuality of mixing colors and pushing those lush hues across some form of canvas are a very elemental form of creativity - getting your hands covered in a rainbow of dabs and smears of paint somehow keeps you connected to the great Muse in a way that a Wacom tablet can't. So, I picked up my sable brushes and my number two pencils and got my hands dirty again after a long hiatus.

Here are my 13 reasons for painting without pixels again:
  1. There's nothing as gratifying as getting your hands dirty - especially with any kind of artist's paint or material.
  2. There is an almost cosmic connection to something out there that rules the lives of artists and this connection is strongest when you are closest to the actual materials that come from the Earth - graphite, oil, paper.
  3. I wanted to keep my skills before they faded away - that can happen if you don't stay tuned in and stay working.
  4. I love how I get physically connected to a real piece of art, how I transcend the physical world and become part of the art work. That is harder to do with a monitor and keyboard.
  5. I wanted a physical original - not something that existed only as dots of computer code.
  6. I love the experience of sitting in a studio with only the art and some music in the background.
  7. There's nothing like the ache you get from getting so involved with what you're doing you forget time and work too long - and you sleep like a damn baby those days.
  8. I love the smell of art materials - the smell of the wood in your pencil as you sharpen it, the smell of linseed oil.
  9. There's nothing as exciting as a big ass empty canvas or sheet of watercolor paper.
  10. There's a certain danger to doing art that doesn't have an "undo" feature. There's often no going back in "real world" art - especially watercolors.
  11. There's also a certain enjoyment of the emotionalism that comes from making a mistake you cannot correct with a keystroke - sometimes it's fun to rant and throw jars of paint!
  12. It's fun to mix paint and see the colors as they change and evolve.
  13. I now have Christmas presents that are one-of-a-kind originals.
I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - Georgia O-Keefe

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  1. I love your glasses and well, most your art that I've seen. Thanks.

  2. Hurray for getting your hands dirty! It's so much more intimate.

    I absolutely love the painting at the top of this post. Your paintings are all so colorful and lovely! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  3. I love Georgia O'Keefe. My own work is similar to hers. I teach a painting class on Fridays and love to paint along. It's like a little break, a chance to unwind. I also love the smell of linseed oil. LOL. Funny how I always have an artist character in my books.

    Happy TT and I'm glad you're dabbling in the real stuff again.

  4. I always aspired to be an artist...but I lack that art gene! I love looking at your art though. It has great color! And this list makes it sound like so much fun it makes me want to pick up a paintbrush art gene or not :)

    Happy TT!

  5. I love your work and completely agree with what you are saying. I was the same way, I was always drawing, designing. I currently work part time as a web designer, and went to college at a well known art academny. But between life and 4 kids later, I have lost my touch. I keep saying I will pick it up again when they are in college. Good for you.

  6. Wonderful! And yeah ... there's not much better than anything that get your hands dirty!

  7. I agree that nothing beats hands on art. Your glasses are great, too. I love all of the bright colors.

  8. Brenda - I love my glasses too and just might keep them all, lol

    Anonymous - Thanks the painting at the top of the post is one of my new miniature canvas Pop Art Divas.

    Mary - Did you see the Lifetime movie on Georgia O'Keefe that aired last month? It was pretty good - I had no idea about her love life and how it affected her work!

    Tracie - Just because you don't have the "art gene" - and I agree there IS such a thing, lol - it doesn't mean you can't play with art. Grab some crayons or a box of kids watercolors and doodle some abstracts - just put the colors where it feels good, use your fingers - have FUN. It might not be great art but it is truly therapeutic! Besides you might be surprised at how nice some of your efforts turn out! Shut off your "thinking cap" and let your instincts come out to play!

    Jenny - I started back in by buying some #2 pencils and a few drawing pads and just started doodling for fun - that helped to loosen me up and take the pressure off - as professional artists we can sometimes get to tight and wrapped up in "perfect".

    Walk - As a fellow artist I knew you'd understand, lol.

    Kiristen - Color is a thing with me, I love bright colors too and sometimes have to remind myself that pastels, earth tones and even black and white can be beautiful too.

  9. What a great T13! Love how you commune with your Muse with touch and smell. I also feel closer to my writing when it's coming from my pen and going onto paper. Even if I have to retype it into the computer, the writing is always better than when I'm at the computer.

  10. Julia - it's funny, you don't notice those smells of making art until they're not there anymore - the only smell a computer makes is virtual, lol.

  11. I can fall into my writing the way you fall into a painting, it sounds like.

  12. Did I ever mention how very jealous I am of artistic types ESPECIALLY painters? You work is beautiful and will continue to inspire us mere dabblers.
    My T13 is up and it is about 13 Random Photos from the MyPhotos Folder on my PC. Stop by if you get a chance.

  13. Hey! I wrote a blog post about painting too! How very odd, great minds think alike and all that.

    Love that image Terri. Just gorgeous. I think it's wonderful that you're painting "real world art".

  14. HI there,

    As an artist who uses more medium than the jewelry you'll see on my blog (pastel, acrylic, collage, pencil, CP, charcoal,photography etc), I enjoyed reading this post. I enjoy playing digitally, but I'm MUCH more old school hands-on: yes, the Smell, the feel, the entire ambiance of real life materials in my hands- NOTHING beats that.

    I empathize with physical pain and challenges. Glad you have already made some original gifts you're proud of! As for artshows, maybe a neighbor or friend can transport them? We help each other out in our art groups that way. You sound so happy now!

  15. Julia - I have always been very grounded in the physical so the smell and touch of creating are a big part of it for me - that's where digital art is sadly lacking - though it makes up for that lack with the ability to mix watercolors, oils, pastels, colored pencils and other mediums in one work which you can't do in the real world!

    Susan - I think creativity is a connection to something outside of myself - call it what you will, God, The Universe, The Cosmos, Collective Consciousness - and I figure that works for all creative types!

    Dane - Being creative is a blessing and a curse (read my Artist's Statement but I would not give it up for anything in the world because it has made my life meaningful.

    Liz - I saw that and you never told me you painted!!!! But you will see my answer on your blog!

    Gel - You know, getting a pencil and brush back in my hand for a few hours a week has really given me that little something that I didn't know I was missing! I am happy to be back at the "drawing board" if only for some personal amusement - trust me, at the prices I've put on those paintings it ain't for profit, lol!

  16. I like seeing the process of painting, and I like the fact that you can make mistakes and not totally erase them.

    It's like film vs digital cameras. Some of the best pictures are those you didn't intend to take, and they just accidentally appear on your roll. You couldn't erase them, because you couldn't see them, and it was great picking up your roll only to discover your best friend's eyes were closed. Or you had bunny ears.

    So painting to me is just so authentic. Paint On!

  17. Mrs.Grapevine - Yes, sometimes when you are painting what you think is a mistake turns out to be a blessing! I have learned whole new techniques and styles from what I originally thought was a disaster!

  18. You've got genuine skillz, lady. :-) You mentioned Georgia O'Keefe. Did yous see the story of her life on Lifetime in October?

    I haven't painted or drawn anything in 20 some years, but I once attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in its visual arts program.


  19. Cool Art! I absolutely love it!

  20. Verite - I DID see that program - funny, I just asked another artist if they'd seen it yesterday! So far I think you and I are the only ones who caught the show!

    Oh, How I would have loved to gone to the visual arts center in N.O. with you - I did a series of Pop Art Mardi Gras Masks for a few years - in fact have redone a few lately, here's one in my Pop Art section of my website: http://bit.ly/8IqMKu

  21. Unfortunately, I'm not an artist but I can feel the fulfillment in your words. Creating "real world art" must bring so much satisfaction because it engages many more of your senses than the digital form.
    Good for you, Ms. Pop Art Diva! I'm thrilled you're returning to the source of such enjoyment.

  22. I've never painted before but for some reason lately I've had a wicked urge to do so! Any recommendations?

  23. Eileen - yes, the experience of touch and smell adds a lot of extra dimension to a painting session - the smell and feel of paint, paper, a brush in your hand - brings a bit of sensuality to the creative experience. I still love doing digital art and always will becaue it allow me to do things that simply cannot be done with real art mediums like mixing oil and water, lol.

    Janet - I know most people will suggest you start with colored pencils or pastels because they are an easier to control medium BUT I always like to start people off with watercolors and tell them to paint an abstract - something NON representational - to enjoy the experience of color, the flow of the paint, the surprise of what watercolors can bring to a painting. Plus you can buy a really cheap set of kids watercolor paints for this stage and not invest a fortune in expensive sets of other mediums.

    I also suggest you grab some pencils and some inexpensive sketch pads and just doodle a bit. Let yourself just enjoy making designs, covering the paper with patterns.

    I believe that Play is a big part of being an artist - it's certainly a large component of creativity - so go out and play and don't put any pressure on yourself to paint "something". Don't expect a masterpiece right out of the gate - be kind to yourself!

  24. This is one of your best posts ever! I got a vicarious thrill from your "travelogue" on your artistic process and connection with the elements. Don't miss my last post in my Four Elements series on (Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights, up later today on the element Earth. I think you'll see yourself in it in a big way! Thanks for reminding all of us that the airy element of digitization is great in its own right but no substitute for hands-on. A balance is great, and your new work in the old media is some of your best ever. I just love it!

  25. Joyce - The Pop Art Divas were a good way for me to segue back into painting again - and I now have plans to move a little deeper into the painting as I found myself getting into a lot more detail than I had originally planned for these pieces.

    Guess it's time to move to a larger canvas and put aside some serious painting time! Though I don't know where I'll find it with all my other work - guess TV will suffer, lol.


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