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Thread: Digital Art frowned upon??
March 22nd, 2012 #1
Digital Art frowned upon??
Greetings fellow artists.
I am one of them that really likes working in the digital mediums, though I do work traditionally as well. But I prefer painting digitally since I don't have much room to use paint or other more messy mediums.
Now I have come across in my art school that teachers really frown upon this method. The reaction I usually get is: "huh, is it possible to paint in the computer?" or "this must be some kind of a trick and is cheating" or the more snobbish ones that just think this kind of art is below them.
In most cases I think this is simply because they don't know what it is, and therefore won't accept it as one kind of art medium.
But because of this, in my portfolio I'm making for the art department there, I will probably only have 1-2 digital works.
But in the end, I was wondering if this is there same for you fellow artists. Does the older generation and teachers where you are also frown upon digital art or are they more casual about it?
March 22nd, 2012 #2
I've been drawing digitally for 10 years now, and my grandpa still asks me every time "Really? You paint on a computer?", despite being familiar with my digital work at least since 2004. (No, he's not senile)
Unless they specifically say otherwise art schools are focused on traditional art, this is normal. In my own art school portfolio I did not include digital work. People were/are not familiar with it, but I don't mind - after all I'm going to art school to learn traditional painting.
People are much more familiar with it now, though, than they were 10 years ago. That's my experience.
Don't worry about it - there's a market for everything - just keep painting and improving!
March 22nd, 2012 #3
Well usually when you got to school for fine art, the faculty wants you to focus on using traditional mediums because that's what that particular market is all about. If you go to school for illustration, the faculty is usually more willing to let you work with digital media. If you really want to just focus on digital art, why not apply to a digital arts program?
Instructors and professors usually have their minds made up about digital art and you're not going to be able to do much to change them. So if you feel like digital art is a huge part of what you want to do ask yourself; "Will I enjoy working with traditional media for schoolwork?" "What benefits are there for me to be in this art program that focuses on these other methods?" "Can I work on digital art on my own time?" "Is it better for me to choose another art program or school that is more accepting of what I like to do?"
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March 22nd, 2012 #4Registered User
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A lot of professors focus on traditional before digital and that makes a lot of sense. First of all, traditional art is a lot easier to critique in a classroom setting, and everyone learns from each piece that is critiqued. If you are printing out a copy, there are all sorts of issue centered around the print - is it too dark or too blue, etc. However, the fundamental reason is that digital programs are based to emulate traditional mediums (to a greater or lesser extent). Teaching you painting the old-fashioned way will help you establish a foundation for digital painting.
Another fundamental reason is that your professors may know traditional a lot better than digital and be able to provide more meaningful critiques. A lot of times, they'll be able to see how you worked in a traditional medium in addition to the end product, whereas in digital that's a lot more difficult. They can see and understand your process when you work traditionally which gives them an opportunity to say when you went wrong other than just saying what the problems are in the end product.
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March 22nd, 2012 #5
Back in college I also experienced some prejudice against this "mysterious" thing known as digital painting. I've also had a few curious looks in life drawing classes. However, I've generally found that a short demo can clear up any misconceptions.
Usually if someone doesn't get it, I'll show them a playback of a painting I made a while back using the Colors homebrew for the Nintendo DS. From that they tend to realize that digital painting is just as much "real" painting as any other medium. I also generally mention the reasons I like working digitally: layers, undo, no waiting for paint to dry, backups, cloning, color adjustment, playbacks etc.
For anyone here with a smartphone, it should be relatively simple to keep a couple video playbacks of your painting sessions on hand.
March 22nd, 2012 #6
I think that for the most part digital painting is unknown and misunderstood by those who are not digital artists themselves. There are still many people who associate the computer with some sort of magic that only requires pressing a few buttons and as we all know...pressing buttons is not real work and doesn't require any specialized knowledge. ;P
Julie I disagree with your main point about instruction...while I do agree that a teacher who has little or no experience with digital will have a difficult time even understanding what you are doing on the screen or what tools are being used...someone who has experience will be able to easily understand what is going on and how to correct it. After all...whether you use the line tool or a ruler to draw the lines, bad perspective is still bad perspective. And while one may be able to draw a line better with pencil and paper...it won't improve your anatomy. Likewise neither will having the latest version of PS or a particular artist's collection of custom brushes. If set up properly...digital would actually improve the classroom environment, but most people would likely not be able to figure out how to implement it to do so. As Feng Zhu says repeatedly in his videos, the tools don't matter.
But really, does it matter how you hold the charcoal or brush or what brand of paper or paint you use if you can manage to achieve good end results (not the same, but close enough as to not be worth noticing)???
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March 22nd, 2012 #7
March 23rd, 2012 #8
I don't understand how exactly using a computer to 'paint' takes less skill than traditional paints. The core of painting derives from knowledge, everything else is muscle memory and knowledge of medium.
Digital art is faster than most traditional art, but that in no way makes it require less skill. It's just potentially speedier, especially for a finished work. I'm curious what you mean by digital taking less skill, I would love a specific example.
Now as for value, yes I can see your point. Traditional paintings will always (I think) have more monetary value and cultural value than digital will, because of the painting actually existing in physical form.
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March 23rd, 2012 #10
Snidley Whiplash mustache to go with it.
As for DH, While digital work can be just as skilled as traditional work artists hobble themselves starting digital before tackling basics in a traditional manner. As proof, how many of you digital only with no traditional practice work professionally as artists? So all the successful traditiionally trained people who work as artists using digital don't know whats going on but all the amateurs do? Yeah right.
Let me suggest that digital only artists lack of skill stems from the use of digital as an attemppt to shortcut what is the daunting task of learning to paint and draw representationally and all of the things that go with it. those shortcuts in discipline have come home to roost denying the artist the thing they seek.
As for the less skill argument. Less planning of an idea before starting necessary (undo, save multiple version of the same image, layers that can be reordered ) less knowledge, of perspective (just bring up your pespective grid), of color mixing (sampling colors is how most people paint digitally) of anatomy (just paint on top of your poser or daz model or photo ref without redrawing it).
Obviously there are artists that have skill as digital artists, but I'll bet most learned the critical process of how to draw and paint traditionally and learned the important steps of organised thinking that goes with that training before moving to digital.
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March 23rd, 2012 #11
Randomly applying a perspective grid to an image won't work; you still have to know exactly where the VPs are to place the grid correctly. Perspective is dynamic. If you're painting an image from life whether it be digital or traditional, you still have to have a commanding knowledge of perspective to use it correctly whether or not you have a template to set up the lines originating from the VP(s).
Shortcuts just make the process faster, you can still 'undo' in traditional media by scraping off paint (say...in oils). Although I will admit -- the paint will eventually build up on the material you're painting on so I imagine you can't undo infinitely.
I'm not saying they're on ENTIRELY equal footing (that would be crazy talk), I tend to respect traditional art more than digital if only because it's so....satisfying and materialistic comparatively. But I definitely think, that since knowledge is really what makes art more than anything physical or digital, that both require very similar amounts of skill to actually produce an effective painting.
And one major thing you pointed out that I feel the need to mention and agree on, is that traditional materials DO require a more careful mastery of planning. I think that is one of the reasons that traditional art is so much more attractive to learning from than digital.
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March 23rd, 2012 #12
I would agree that working digitally makes certain things more efficient, but I wouldn't equate efficiency with being "easy" in the sense that it takes little to no skill to get a good result.
I really don't buy this idea that doing things with efficient tools makes you lazy. It's difficult and inefficient to paint an oil painting with a live squirrel. It takes much more planning and finesse to use a squirrel than a brush, and you can only get a few strokes down with each squirrel before they bite your hand and run away. Does someone painting with said squirrel have no choice but to plan more beforehand? I suppose so. Are you therefore lazy to use a brush instead of a squirrel, just because it's more convenient and fairly efficient at certain tasks? Of course not. You use the most efficient, reliable tool you're comfortable with using.
It is true that lazy people do lazy things in a lazy way, but they also have lazy looking results. The most efficient tool in the world isn't going to let a bad artist produce a good painting from scratch. I can buy the best hammer in the world but I don't think anyone would want to live in any house I've built with it.
Nothing stops you from planning if you want to plan other than a lack of discipline. You still need to do some kind of planning if you don't want whatever you're making to suck. How else are you going to get a good composition? Plenty of people doing digitial painting will do numerous sketches and thumbnails beforehand. Likewise, as long as you don't care about the result, nothing is stopping you from going into an oil painting randomly, building it up until the paint is an inch thick.
You can scrape of the paint or push it around. I hit undo at most once or twice an hour, and by default only the last 20 strokes are saved. Most of the time if I want to fix something I'll just paint over it.
- Multiple versions
You want to test out an idea you're not sure will work, so you paint a thumbnail or make some sketches. Only difference in photoshop is sometimes you test things out directly over your painting.
Eh, if you're painting on glass or something.
- No knowledge of perspective needed - just bring up your perspective grid!
Won't do you much good unless you already understand perspective. In the real world people sometimes will use a projector or a grid printed on an transparent sheet of plastic, espeically for things like murals. What do you suppose people do for things that don't line up to the grid?
- Color mixing, color picker
Yeah you can rely solely on the eyedropper tool in Photoshop if you don't care about the final result. If you mean picking colors from the color selector (directly grabbing a specific hue or saturation) then I suppose the real-world equivalent would be buying specific pigments (eg. burnt umber) instead of mixing everything yourself from primary colors.
- No knowledge of anatomy required - just paint on top of your poser or daz model or photo ref without redrawing it!
Poser models look terrible, and a paintover by anyone who doesn't actually understand anatomy will look terrible as well. Also, what kind of satisfaction would a painter get from tracing over a photo unless they're just trying to impress the 12-year-olds on deviantart? In the real world, this can be done with projectors or transparent sheets of plastic, or via "camera obscura".
March 23rd, 2012 #13
I like you dpant. You are harsh in some of your posts and I think you know this and dare I even say that at times you don't care that you are being harsh. It is what it is and I respect you as you are because you have knowledge and experience to back up what you say. I wasn't trying to make you seem like a bad guy because I don't think you are. I was just saying that the general tone and direction of the conversation was making me a bit blue. I hope that clears it up.
March 22nd, 2012 #14
Are you creating an image? Yes. Are you making a painting? No. Taking a photo creates an image too...but it isn't painting. Get over the idea that because someone says digital isn't painting they are a simpleton or dinosaur.
March 22nd, 2012 #15
If we're talking about the kind of photo-manipulation stuff you have in your thread "Digital Alchemy", I'd agree that no, that isn't painting: that is much more akin to collage. However, if we're talking digital painting in the sense of what Bumskee does (eg. this thread), I would strongly disagree. (beautiful stuff in your Plein Air thread, btw)
With digital painting you still:
- Pick colors from an existing set or "mix" your own.
- Often start from a sketch, underpainting, or silhouette
- Put colors on a canvas in broad strokes, gradually refining things until they look right
- Can mix colors on the canvas to blend things together
- Can build up colors through thin glazes
- Can remove bad strokes of paint as you might do with paint thinner.
- Have to build up areas of light and shadow, and understand form and perspective
- Have to understand how different kinds of surfaces react to light
- Have to understand composition, color theory, and anatomy
- Can use different kinds of brushes to produce different looking strokes
When acrylic paints were first developed, many oil painters claimed it wasn't "real" painting. I'm sure that the egg tempera painters claimed the same thing when oil paints came out. I see it as the same thing with this, and I'm sure I'll complain as well when psychic photo-paper comes out.
Originally Posted by dpaint
Last edited by SmallPoly; March 22nd, 2012 at 06:57 PM.
March 22nd, 2012 #16
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March 22nd, 2012 #17
Why wouldn't you need knowledge of perspective when painting digitally? Unless you don't care how it looks or you're just taking a picture and using a filter to make it look painterly, I can't see how doing it on a screen would make a difference.
Doing things without order or commitment sounds more like a discipline problem to me than an inherent problem of painting on a computer. If you're saying you can get a good result without discipline, that sounds more like a feature than a bug.
March 22nd, 2012 #18
But the electric piano is still a synth.
And any instrument is a sort of synth of the human voice.
Thus painting on a computer is like painting with your hands stuck inside a goldfish bowl. You are performing an activity that apes the equivalent activity in reality. Painting on a computer is painting by proxy.
Doing anything on a computer is doing by proxy.
From Gegarin's point of view
March 22nd, 2012 #19
Hi JeffX99 -
I think that hits upon the key difference here - if I'm understanding correctly, some of us define painting primarily by the actions and skill-set used, and some of us define it as inherently involving paint (or paint-like substances) which are then manipulated with that skill-set.
March 22nd, 2012 #20
Hey SmallPoly - thanks for the considered reply. Well traveled territory and I respect your right to your opinion on the matter. In the end though you still don't have anything physical...haven't made any actual brushstrokes with a brush, created any real impasto, glaze or scumbling...etc. The process is radically different and takes place at a different scale with a different feel and with different tools. Which is why I used the synthesizer/violin analogy.
Anyway, my real point is that they are different mediums/tools and create different things and images. There are reasons that traditional painters, teachers and galleries do not accept digital work with open arms. People need to understand these diffferences and get past this idea that "they just don't understand what I'm doing" kind of attitude. Digital media is quite well accepted when it is used creatively and sort of "in tune" with itself...Android Jones being the best example.
[None of these observations apply to the commercial or production use of digital media btw]
And thanks for the plein air comment - yeah, my digital stuff is really more collage/montage oriented than painting oriented.
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March 22nd, 2012 #21
With the synthesizer/violin analogy. You can respect an amazing violinist but if you've ever seen the skill some artists have with editing/programming synths, wave forms etc, who then compose simple bleeps and bloops into creations that require ridiculous skill you wouldn't have any less respect for them.
I'd equate it closer to electric piano maybe, but some people use the tools at it's base level. They take an electric piano and use it to emulate piano sounds. Others take the electric piano expand on it, create their own sounds, hook it up so it is to come out of the piano then use the piano as a tool to create it in a standard notation. That requires no less skill if not more than playing a regular piano.
(Pretty sure Jeff hit that note with the Android reference)
Not many are like this though. They take it at it's basic form.
Though when it comes to pretty pictures mostly only the artists care about the method. While the average joes only care about the pretty picture itself. With music someone could create a chiptune from scratch, program it and take hundreds of split second synths to create a distinct bloop but the average viewer still only finds it as a 'cool sound' regardless the skill to create it.
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March 22nd, 2012 #22
To the OP's question of a lack of acceptance of digital art in a traditional setting (and to put the synth/violin analogy to bed): try taking your synth to a symphony audition for a seat with the violinists. And then imagine complaining that they just don't understand...you have all the skills, your keyboard sounds like a violin, in fact it's even better 'cause it can also sound like drums!
My advice is rather than worrying about hammering the digital peg into the traditional hole...work out what the digital can do that traditional can't.
March 23rd, 2012 #23
Playing a violin with your feet as well as you can with your hands requires imaginable skill. Playing an electric piano while using an organ bass for your feet is harder than playing one without... etc etc.
But that doesn't alter the fact you are playing a violin or piano.
Doing the same with the synthetic versions of these instruments would be just as difficult.
When I use the computer the skill set used regarding visual composing is exactly the same as using physical paint.
One is synthesising the process of using paint and one is the process itself.
It is not a distinction contingent on skill.
Last edited by Chris Bennett; March 23rd, 2012 at 08:49 AM.From Gegarin's point of view
March 22nd, 2012 #24
I'm learning to paint traditionally, but it's certainly not because I just can't work out how to start this weird PhotoShop voodoo thing..
When I started using computers the hot new games arrived on a C15 cassette tape.
When I first scribbled on a computer PS did not exist, it was all NeoPaint, DeluxePaint, and bizarre lightpen attachments.
I remember PS when it came on floppy disks.
I spent two years elbow deep in Softimage3d / XSI and Maya.
This netbook hardrive is fried but I can still use the thing to browse the web because I'm booting it off an Ubuntu live install..
Point being, I'm a terribly geeky geek, a lifer.
I currently choose to paint with actual paint, because that seems like the logical way to learn to paint.
I don't really care if you want to call computer simulations of painting "painting" or not, but can we please stop with the tired "you just don't understand how it works man!" . Please?
I totally get how it works, I totally got how it worked when you were three.
March 23rd, 2012 #25
I'm just trying to get the hang of this conversation.
Assumption1= the worth of a painting is measured by the skill of the artist.
Assumption2= the skill of an artist in this model is either 1 or 2, 1=digital and 2=traditional, e.g. higher.
If (solely) Digital Artist DA, and Traditional artist TA, it is TA > DA (in terms of skill) because digital is easier.
Therefore, the DA's work, Wda, is < than Tda. Because the skill required to achieve finishing a painting is lower for the DA, thus the work would be worth less because it is based on skill (moral argument, no industry-related demand involved in this.)
The question I wonder is, if the DA is a TA as well, a TDA so to speak, and he or she would produce both digital (DWtda) and traditional (TWtda) works.
Would that mean the following:
skill: TA > DA, TDA > DA, TDA = TA
worth: Wta > Wda, but DWtda < Wta and TWtda = Wta.
March 24th, 2012 #26
But the real reason it was hard to answer is because I think the assumptions or question do not get to the heart of the issue...which has been really clearly stated in a number of ways, people just haven't really been willing to accept the conclusions.
It doesn't have to do with skill, or even worth in their own arena for that matter (ie: digital is quite valid in matte paiting, production art, etc.). It has to do with the reality that digital "painting" is not really painting but the manipulation of a software program and algorithms to create an image. In both process and result they are radically different things...as different as photography and painting.
Personally I don't even take issue with calling it "digital painting", I think that is an appropriate term. The problem arises though, when people want to say it is basically the same thing as physical painting, and "It's just what I want to do...you must accept it as the same thing"...then complain when you don't and basically write you off as a dinosaur. They just arent the same. Particularly in a fine art arena (the OP's issue) where digital is embraced unless you are using it as a substitute for traditional media. Digital is not the same in how you do it, what you do it with or what results from the process or activity. Scale, impact, surface, artifact, evidence of process, longevity (there are paintings that are 35,000 years old), etc. all major differences. To ignore these differences basically makes the argument moot because to do so ignores the radically different nature between the two things.
Anyway, not sure that really answers your logic path/conclusion but I hope it helps.
March 24th, 2012 #27
Sorry for the mathematical approach there, I figured it'd be shorter than a wall of text to get lost in *heh*
Yeah I see what you mean. The assumptions are clearly the weak part- I based it on dpaints first post, saying that it IS easier and it DOES take less skill to draw digitally. However that does not necessarily imply that the work is less "worthy" (morally) but as this was the issue the OP had, I thought dpaints answer related to the worth of a piece, not the skill alone.
Are the following your points?:
So the only and crucial issue with digital painting in the fine arts arena is the lack of a physical painting?
This must not necessarily imply the digital artist could not paint traditionally or (pick any topic discussed in this thread) however it is a trend (certainly on the internet) for many beginners to substitute digital media with skill(?)
I think my only problem with the discussion is that the physical painting is deemed the ultimate goal, as supposed to art for production purposes- the main argument being that it is not physical (which to some people equals "not real") and not ever-lasting. See I don't disagree with what you or dpaint are saying, I would just try to pledge that little flexibility acknowledging change- or rather, alternatives, additives.. for the argument's sake. I'd also prefer (to have the money to buy) a huge Rembrandt on my wall as opposed to a digital print.
March 24th, 2012 #28
Not quite there yet as far as the points I've tried to bring up about scale, process and such. To me it is a HUGE deal that you do a digital painting on a monitor on a little plastic board and in the end can only produce a smallish size print to show for it. We're talking direct commparison again though...as if the only difference is you make one painting on a computer and one with paint. They are vastly different - again in the same way a photograph is different from a painting. In this sense digital painting has much more in common with photography than with real painting.
Physical painting is not the ultimate goal at all...unless you're painting . That is why I bring up Android Jones frequently as an example of someone whose vision, aesthetic and results are completely in tune with his media. He isn't trying to say, "This is just like an oil painting"...he's saying, "Look how fuckin cool this is!" (apologies for the street language - but I think that's how he would say it).
I'm all about alternatives...and a big part of why this always bugs me. It is the digital folks who don't want to explore alternatives...they don't want to actually learn how to paint, they want a one-box-does-all thing. And on top of that they want to limit their own chosen media to being a ridiculously poor imitation of the real thing. Sort of like internet porn vs. real love-making. Huge difference.
Different media have different possibilities, limitations and expressions. I think it is silly to try to make one be something else is all. Can't get much impasto in a watercolor for example, and oils don't do washes very well. Why on earth would someone "draw" on a little plastic slate for example, instead of enjoying the physical nature of drawing? Especially with interesting physical media like charcoal or conte? Just a mystery to me.
And yeah, been very careful to limit the discussion to the grounds the OP set up...because all this goes out the window when talking about production art, illustration, etc. Then it is about the image only, not the artifact. It's also a different discussion whether learning and developing yourself as an artist is best done via traditional materials or digital. Don't even want to muddy the discussion with that!
March 24th, 2012 #29
Before I start, I would like to emphasize that to me, a physical painting is a big difference to a digital piece. I probably don't even get the grasp of just how MUCH different it is yet, as I have so little experience.
I follow you completely when you say a digital painting is different to a traditional painting to such a degree that the only thing it shares is the word "painting", at the same time being the reason for false hope and expectations.
However the photography thing won't get to my head. I have done a little photography myself a couple of years ago, and I find that the digital paint <> traditional paint has more in common than digital paint <> photography, for the following reasons.
Photography is about getting it right and then take one shot. (No Photoshop camera raw and whatnot) You need a motive, a composition, understanding of light and the technical knowledge of the camera in order to process a shot.
A digital painting involves the process of production, i.e. one click =/ process of painting. You do this obviously very differently from traditional (as pointed out numerous times in this thread) but it involves colour picking and mixing, picking brushes and applying the strokes in the correct directions. I would understand the argument that digital painting is a step between traditional painting and photography, because it mimics traditional painting but involves a production process as well.
I believe the reason that Android Jones is not picked up by most people because they understand digital painting to be painting. You say it is a mystery to you how people can draw on plastic tablets. I don't speak for anyone, but maybe I can enlighten you with my thinking process in art, a humble 1 year old.
First of all, I had a tablet before I had a brush. (I leave aside school art courses and the like) My understanding of traditional painting was: it is slow, messy and difficult. Digital art was easier- and I thought this is because the medium is appealing to me more than traditional- not in terms of skill, but the idea that I could now show my 'true talent'. It is not the plastic tablet that I see, it is the cursor that holds the digital paint. It feels like I'm painting- because I have never painted before.
If you have not experienced physical painting, then all you have is knowledge about what it is: applying paint to a surface with brushes- isn't that exactly what you do in Photoshop?
If it wasn't for dpaint, Elwell's and your continuous banging about how much different traditional is and how important, the thought would have never crossed my mind. It was only last week in my life drawing class when we did acrylics, that I understood that my knowledge of "what is painting" is limited indeed.
In the end you could come down with the argument that the physical side of painting does not matter and thus digital paint = traditional paint and it would end up in a discussion whether tradition is an asset in itself and you could name numerous examples of things in which the physical side has been overcome and so forth... I have no idea what religious war that one would be, but I summarize my assumption in that
the lack of experience of physical painting can lead to a limited understanding of what painting is, denying its physical aspect, and thus making digital painting much more similar following the logic.
March 25th, 2012 #30
I work in watercolor, acrylics (tempera style), marker, colored pencils, and digital. They all have their quirks and challenges. They all make some things easy and others hard. They all require a different touch and timing. They all smell, feel and flow differently.
Yet they all are based on the same fundamentals and the same principles of form, color and light. I don't suddenly forget how perspective works if I switch from watercolor to acrylics or digital. If you work with a painterly method, then it does not matter which medium you use. It is possible to produce a painting in graphite and a drawing in oil, the conventional distinctions of the medium aside. There are monochrome paintings and color drawings. It all boils down to the way you use light in your image.
I'd like to ask something from all of you who are singing very poetic praise to the physical experience of oil painting and how it all is absent from digital medium. Substitute some other medium in your philippics. Instead of saying that digital is worthless because it lacks the smell of turpentine and getting the paint consistency right and pushing it around with the palette knife and the delightful little randomness of paint thickness it all introduces to enliven the result, say that watercolor is worthless because it lacks the smell of turpentine and getting the paint consistency right and pushing it around with the palette knife and the delightful little randomness of paint thickness it all introduces to enliven the result. Maybe then you'll see that the whole argument is, frankly, ridiculous. That you love a particular experience does not mean that another experience is worthless.
It's just another medium, folks. Daubing viscous paste around the canvas, scraping brittle chalk on the tooth of board, controlling the drying of little pools of water, placing patches of pure light next to each other.
It's not WHAT you use, it's HOW you use it.