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Parked Bike



‘’ Why does digital art remind me of non alcoholic beer ? ‘’ A recent and typically loaded comment from Brian Dunce, my dear friend and former tutor from the Guildford School of Art. Frankly, his comment is one I’ve shared for a considerable while myself. Has digital art fallen short of favour with you too, if so you’re not alone. Let’s face it, for a start the entire digital process of creating a painting is far removed from the familiar time honoured artist’s studio. Gone for good are all the comfort zones of hands on clutter, paint spattered floor, trusty well worn easel, plus every conceivable piece of art paraphernalia you’ve come to cherish over the years. What’s more, even going into the studio to just sit and ponder has become history. Please don’t take my word for it, ask any artist who’s spent the last 60 years or so in this most tranquil of emotive environs. The entire experience of the studio is like an old slipper, a warm hug, or finding a long lost teddy bear. Well, think again. It’s all gone! The emergence of digital art even appears to have rocked other long held values asunder too! Recall the work of renowned artist Jackson Pollack. He broke all the rules and even the hearts of art lovers worldwide by literally hurling paint about! Overnight he become the father of so called, ‘’ action painting !” He literally tore the concept of painting apart. Ever since then, who hasn’t heard plaintiff cries of, ‘’ That’s not what I call art, or, my cat could do better than that !”… etc etc. So…how did I even remotely contemplate the idea of becoming involved in this much maligned media of iPad art. This illustration may help explain it. Picture if you will, an ancient cave wall depicting a wholly Mammoth. Surrounding it are tiny stick men with bows and arrows. The artist is just about to paint another scene when someone yells at him from the cave entrance. On inspection he’s greeted by a sales rep. It turns out he’s selling artist’s bound sketch pads with an assortment of coloured pencils. Does the caveman tell him to go away and get a proper job !…? Fast forward then to another sales rep knocking on our busy design studio in London back in the 60s. This time he’s selling an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. Would we have told him to go away and get a proper job ! …? Could it be we’ve been guilty of saying or thinking that way too…? There’s a saying, ‘’ live in the moment, not the occasion, the basics are here to stay.’’ The very act of making marks is what art is all about. Salvador Dali has claimed that, ‘’ Drawing is the honesty of art, there can be no excuses, it’s either good or bad.’’ Therefore, an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil will not make you a great artist. It’s only as good as the user. Period. I confess my dubious outlook about this media changed when I met the outstanding American artist Jerry Lofaro. It took less than an hour of using an iPad Pro to see the enormous potential of this medium. Once you get used to the pencil sliding on an ultra smooth screen, with an equally smooth Apple pencil. Things happen. Of paramount importance is the striking touch sensitivity of line and shading. The sensation is so completely in tune with mind and heart, that I found myself drawing with a new found degree of consideration that is deeply satisfying. The iPad has now found an integral place amongst the clutter of my studio. In keeping with the above introduction to digital art, I hope this recent artwork entitled, ‘’Parked bike‘’ will prompt a thought or two. The paint spattered floor may remind us of how Jackson Pollacks studio floor may have ended up. The bike may bring to mind the audacious tool some artists used to spread paint about. The blank canvases are there to symbolise the hope that springs eternal for every would be masterpiece. Yet a key component to this composition is the audacity to actually place a completely alien object, directly upon such a personally esteemed and fundamentally important item as an artist’s canvas. Has the advent of digital art done exactly that? The fact that I’ve used the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil for the past 3 years tells me, I’ve realised that digital art, once largely looked down upon, has found a unique voice of its own. In many respects it has no equal. To date I remain a self confessed and contented, “Old school artist from the 60s“ In like manner, I approach digital art shunning the gadgets, apps, or bolt on smoke and mirrors that come from quick fix digital tools. I use just the iPads camera with its basic colour tools plus the Apple Pencil and eraser. This way I keep to the basics, the entire procedure is akin to being handed this technology as it would have been in the late 60s. I’m content with the bare essentials. The iPad then becomes a wonderful sketchbook, the Pencil simply does what a real pencil always has. It’s brought back the human touch in a world obsessed with quick fix gadgets. I don’t employ short cuts, this is art the long way round. All the shadows are real, created by the long exciting moments of an early morning or late evening sun I love working out my own props in a similar way to all the traditional still life compositions. It’s camera is high end, plus the screen is a generous 12’’ x 9’’ inch gem. As a rule I try and stick to subjects I’m familiar with, art materials and musical themes. In addition, cats, biplanes or Bugatti cars etc are blunt hints that I’ve never been keen on painting subjects such as, crumbly bread and cheese, grapes with a bottle of wine on a striped table cloth! Once I’m satisfied with a basic composition, it’s only then that the drawing and erasing of imaginative aspects get’s underway. I’ve also forgotten for a while that I’m not obliged to be in a studio to continue working. It’s all there in a comfy chair or sitting in the car or laying in bed. No mess, no tidying up. No rent ! Of course I’ve still a traditional studio to get a brush wet in or make a glorious mess. There's nothing to take the place of working on large abstract themes, or my love of peaceful moonlit landscapes. Importantly, the quest for ways of expressing progress within the fine arts is a daily concern. I’ve written on the studio wall the words of my very dear friend and mentor the late Stefan Knapp. ‘’Michael Angelo would have got a lot more done if he’d used a spray gun.’’ Ps….a very nice man just came to the door, he tried to sell me a 48 boxed set of watercolour lasers, you can even paint clouds with them up to a height of 35,000 feet. If I’d gone for the deluxe version it would have been possible to utilise a delay doppelgänger link. It’s a neat invisible chamber to a satellite the size of a fifty pence piece, it fires the cloud images off to planets like Pluto. You don’t need a strong signal or a licence, it’s also user friendly anywhere in the world and weighs no more than a paperback book. But …hold on, someone told me Pluto is no longer a planet !.. so he got that wrong for a start. Thats why I told him to go away and get a proper job ! Fancy a non alcoholic beer! William

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