New Art (#46) The Prisoner (of Fate & Chaos), with new technique …

The new technique, as you can plainly see above, is how to go from a rough B&W image into a painterly, color one, without losing the roughness or drama of the original. I won’t go into the details of how it’s done, which is kinda’ a secret anyway, but it uses a combo of Photoshop and Painter. I use those two programs because each has some capacities the other doesn’t. You have to play around with all the brushes and settings and come up with what works for your particular style and  temperament. I don’t even bother with any of the watercolor brushes, and that might be ideal terrain for someone else’s sensibility. The technique isn’t so important as the fact that I think I nailed it.

Note this is #46 in an ongoing series, and you can see all of them at the bottom of this post in a screenshow or a click-through galery.

Here’s just the color version, which I prefer:

#46 The Prisoner (of Fate & Chaos), 20×30″ @300 dpi. Digital drawing.11/07/017. [Click to see in a new tab.]

And here’s a couple details:

One of the saving graces of this image is the top of the prisoner’s head, which is lifting off into the ether.

Dude’s face. Rough expressionist style. I know what teeth look like. This is on purpose.

And here’s a detail a “actual pixels”, which means zoomed in 100%.

I’d be kinda’ proud of this if I did it with oils.

About the title:

It ain’t that important. As I’ve been prattling on about increasingly in my posts, visual art (as in basically a still image) is a different kind of communication/language, and doesn’t rely on or need to be bolstered or filtered through linguistics or the rational mind that formulates reality in sentences (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

But an astute reader might have noticed someone is prisoner of both “fate” AND “chaos”, which are opposite ideas. Yeah, I know that. But it’s starting to seem more like opposites coexist simultaneously within some greater, perhaps incomprehensible fabric, than there is only one or the other pole, even or especially if that produces a goodly amount of cognitive dissonance.

I’m a pretty firm believer in free will, and have written a couple long articles about why we have it. I’ll give you the nutshell version. The argument for determinism is that we are material beings, all material must obey the laws of physics, and each event is the unavoidable consequence of the preceding one. The answer to this is that the mind is not material (science can’t find consciousness), and hence not bound by the laws that effect physical things. On top of that, unlike billiard balls, dominoes, and the cycle of seasons, we have intelligence, imaginations, and can seemingly exercise our wills. Thus, it is not breaking any laws of physics for an immaterial mind to guide a material body within the material world.

That said, I don’t think it’s that simple: a complete either/or. I have the same issue with time. We know, last I checked, it unfurls uni-directionally. And yet, if I just went by intuition, and ignored science, I’d think the future also tailors the past. Don’t ask me how. Also, last I checked, the universe is expanding, but not outward from one central point, which we’d expect from an explosion. The universe is expanding in EVERY direction, as in everything is moving away from everything else. Here’s a fine example of where we can understand the meaning of the words of a sentence without really getting it. How does something move away from one thing without moving towards another?

So, every now and then, science makes a new discovery that just doesn’t compute, like how the osbserver dictates the outcome of experiments in subatomic physics. Several prominent scientists have observed and paraphrased that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. In which case if science were to discover that all time is eternally present – which sounds like the sort of mind-boggling thing science would dredge up – than all of a sudden time would not be linear anymore, but we’d still act like it was, because probably even the scientists couldn’t really fathom how to comfortably reconcile the empirical reality with lived experience.

So, while I do believe we have free will, even without wacky science, there’s still the issue of having free will within a completely enveloping reality of which we have no choice. Is it my fault I’m a human? I didn’t invent the laws of physics, either. In the grand scheme of things I’m a pretty predictable organism. And if you are a piece of debris in a tsunami, you are fated to end up eventually washed up somewhere desiccating in the sun. The grand circumstance of the current of life may be too strong for us to ever swim out of. Millions are conscripted into war and die on the battlefield. If there was anything in our free will to prevent such outcomes, we’d do it, because our lives would depend on it.

So, why “chaos”? Shit. Both fate and chaos are outside of our control. Chaos is that random accident that takes a life or two or three hundred. Everything can be going along as planned, with the outcome of the game reflecting how we are playing it, until one fine day, one is combing the beach and the pickings are particularly good, and the tide is oddly receding. One looks up. Surfs UP today! Do you run for your life or just sit down and watch it? Time, perhaps, for a last few puffs of a cigarette.

The prisoner? He ain’t too happy. It looks like he’s bound in some dungeon and the mechanical mask is his grim guard, torturer, executioner, what have you. Some people end up in places like the gulag, concentration camps, re-education camps, or Abu Ghraib. He’s in one of these sorts of places. But the black bands that secure him also recede into space, as open space, and the top of his head is evaporating and trailing off above. He may have died, rather recently, or perhaps the immaterial is never bound. There’s an out here, and it may be of the death and transcendence variety, even if only as metaphor. I’m not saying I believe in any of that, literally speaking, but I wouldn’t entirely discount it. The belief that reality is just stuff can require abandoning all fantasy and illusions one might have about oneself, but the belief that reality is greater than we can harness in our imagination or intellects requires more humility and self-abnegation: we are not the masters of reality, but plashing on its surface.

About Digital Painting:

Speaking of the future, I rather think digital fine art image-making will take off. The reason it hasn’t isn’t because it’s limited, or that we just love our traditional mediums so much (even if we do). The reason is it’s a steep learning curve, and the people who are taught these skills are almost universally being trained for very traditional illustrational purposes, and not at all for more experimental fine art. For example, one would be trained in how to make characters for a video game, but not how to make an image like, say, Francis Bacon. If you learn fine art, you don’t get the computer skills, and if you are getting the computers skills, you aren’t learning about fine art. Maybe that’s starting to change. Do we think in 100 years people will still be working primarily with physical mediums? I don’t.

That’s where my ass comes in. I’m probably one of the pioneers of digital fine art making, not that such a title comes with even a consolation prize. I can’t even name another person off the top of my head who is doing it that anyone else would have heard of. Hockney is trying to use digital painting, but, the results are painfully amateur in terms of technique, though, of course, his eye is enormously sophisticated, or was. There are probably lots of other artists doing somewhat similar things, but, why would I have heard of them when they most likely haven’t heard of me either? You just don’t get any attention or cool, hard cash for being a digital fine artist. You kinda’ get a giant ball of crap catapulted your way.

I don’t have any problem with people using traditional methods, and I didn’t even start using the computer for art until after I got my MFA. But this image, along with lots and lots of my stuff, shows that digital fine art can be expressive, painterly, done by hand, and can be printed out large (this one’s 20×30″, but can be printed twice that large beautifully). It’s the anti-digital blow-hards that I take issue with.

And now that I’ve added this technique to my toolkit, I’ll probably do something a bit different. Gotta’ keep evolving or you’re just repeating yourself.

Be back soon with another baboon:

~ Eric

Here’s all 46 pieces in the series, which are all images done exclusively from my imagination, and unpremeditated, so far in a slide show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Or, if you prefer, you can see them in a click-through gallery:

To see other posts about other pieces in this series, go here.

See a video about my first 25 pieces in this series here.

~ Ends

Funding. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art back on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). Ah, if only I could amass a few hundred dollars per month this way, I could focus entirely on my art. See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.


Or you can make a small, one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).


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