That Time Mr. Bat got the Human Flu, by Eric Wayne, digital painting, 18×24 in., 3/2020.

Poor Mr. Bat. This was intended as a quick experiment in my ongoing exploration of digital impasto. To my knowledge I have the unique, and completely unrecognized distinction of being a pioneer in achieving digital impasto effects. I’ve used several different programs and combinations thereof to accomplish the results, and it’s usually not in a way they were intended to be used. I do this because of my love of thick, impasto oil paintings, and it’s considered one of the things that is just absolutely impossible to do well digitally. I’ve done a lot of digital impasto paintings. Maybe you’ve seen my tribute to Van Gogh (which was done in a different program, incidentally).

Vincent Van Gogh Self-Portrait with Cut Ear by Eric Wayne.

And a close-up:

If I were able to work with one of the better digital art program creators, we could come up with a way for everyone to be able to do digital impasto painting. That’s not going to happen, though. They’ll come up with it without my input, eventually, and I will likely never be recognized as contributing anything to digital fine art painting. I mean, if I had to bet on it. Hell, digital fine art painting is not even a thing. I’ve never heard of a single digital painter being recognized in the contemporary fine art world. Honestly, the only way I’m going to get any traction in any of the art venues out there is through sheer excellence, and that’s only going to require through dogged persistence, hard work, an open and flexible mind, and humility. As far as I’ve climbed, I’ve still got a steep ascent, and need to continually “level up” my game.

Detail of his let eye.

In fact, I’m moving away from this kind of work, and using programs more the way they were intended to operate, which makes some things a lot easier. But I am an inveterate rule-breaker and restless experimenter when it comes to visual art. It’s one of the reasons I keep shooting myself in both feet by not sticking to one, brand-able, signature style. This is, fore example, in terms of technique, at the opposite end of the spectrum from my last piece, below.

Ant Man Goes AWOL.

The Ant Man above is illustrational, in terms of technique, and Mr. Bat is modern fine art, being an expressionist impasto painting. Mr. Bat is a throwback to prior styles I’ve worked with, and a quick break from learning more illustrational techniques, which I believe there’s a much larger audience for.

Versatility is not a bad thing, nor is skill, though both are derided in contemporary art parlance. Most artists stick to one style, with notable exceptions such as Picasso, Max Ernst, and even David Hockney. I seem hard-wired to try different things, return to methods I’ve used before with a new angle, and to make hybrids. Nevertheless, I know I should probably buckle down and do a series in a signature style if I ever want to gain a bigger audience or have anything resembling a career.

I find it helpful to try different approaches, and as some of you know, it’s one of my dreams to be able to take a plein air landscape oil painting class. I’m not married to working digitally, and didn’t even start until after I got my Master’s in art, but being an expat and a bit of a digital nomad, working physically isn’t a smart option.

I think the details of this new image are the best part, so here’s some more:

As for the subject, well, you can guess it’s a modestly humorous take on our worldwide struggle against the new coronavirus. Here a bat person gets a human flu. Note the squiggly digital impasto cough. This is a peculiar addition to the history of fine art painting, with its obvious reference to expressionism, though most will see it as a failure to achieve this or that preconceived standard of execution and content. It is always safest for ones art to fit precisely within preexisting models and expectations, hence the predominance of utterly formulaic pop music. However, for me, unless it breaks out of the mold, as much as I may appreciate a work, I’m always on the hunt for novelty.

I suppose it’s more tragic than humorous, and I didn’t begin the painting with any idea in mind. It’s not surprising the plight we are facing creeped in. I titled it in the past tense, “That Time Mr. Bat go the Human Flu” so you’d know he survived.

Hope you like him, and let me know what you think in the comments about artists sticking to one style or exploring a range of styles.


~ Ends

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14 replies on “New Art: That Time Mr. Bat got the Human Flu.

    1. I’m sure they can figure it out, and also how to print the results in 3D. The one thing our species accels at is building technology. We’ve built robots that can do back-flips. I think it’s because science builds on thousands of years of discoveries. In everything else we seem to progress much slower, but there’s progress on all fronts.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That might be something I explore in future pieces, and when they come up with a program that is designed to make that possible. I don’t know of any impasto digital painting program capable of achieving these kinds of results. The way I do it doesn’t produce the requisite file info to 3D print.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I like Mr. Bat, the image and the style. Does it happen in real time or is it an action after the fact?
    IMO: Style is a language, a means to express what you want to say, but it is not transparent, it colors that meaning. Would Mr. Bat be the same art if done in pastels? I don’t think so.
    I don’t think it’s as extreme as the PoMos would have it, where they say language writes the author instead of the other way ‘round, but they do have a point in that some meanings can only be spoken in some languages and not others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I finally figured out what you meant by happening in real time. Yes, absolutely, It’s not a filter, like the “oil painting” filter in PS. I brush it on using a custom technique of mine (one of several). It is built up through thousands of individual strokes. Like I said, if I were able to work with a program developer there could be a program to allow one to make digital impasto paintings, and by mixing colors on a palette, picking them up, and applying them, thickly, to the digital canvas, and further mix them there. Right now, I use programs in ways there weren’t really intended to achieve these effects. If one could work with them it would be much easier, and more successful. I don’t give any of my recopies for doing digital impasto, because I can’t afford to (not that you asked): virtually anyone could run with it and get more reward for it, and all the credit, kinda like how the artists Damien Hirst ripped off can’t sell their own original creations because they are perceived as cheap copies of Hirst.

      “Style is a language, a means to express what you want to say, but it is not transparent, it colors that meaning. Would Mr. Bat be the same art if done in pastels? I don’t think so.”

      Yes, agreed, and that’s a rather core observation about art. It’s something we all know, such as when we look at the lyrics of some of our favorites songs, and realize the music carried the song, not the lyrics. “Whole Lotta’ Love” is one of Zeppelin’s best songs, but it’s all about the FEEL. The lyrics suck, “You need cooling. Baby I’m not fooling. I’m gonna send ya back to schooling.” So, this observation that “the medium is the message” is actually obvious, but people are so blinded by ideology – namely the notion that the purpose of art is to communicate ideas, or ask questions, and in linguistics! – that they torture their minds into being blind to the obvious and doing back-flips through flaming hoops to convince themselves of the patently ridiculous. That call that profound.

      “some meanings can only be spoken in some languages and not others.”

      Absolutely. Another abysmal mistake contemporary, postmodern and literary theorists tend to make – ex., Roland Barthes – is that everything is reducible to linguistics (spoken and written language), everything is inseparable from linguistics, and there’s nothing outside of it: all is text, and text is all. Visual art is another form of communication altogether, which is why you don’t need to speak French to appreciate French impressionist painting. Paintings don’t unfold in time like literature, but are immediately present and still. Line, color, texture, composition, etc., are not the same thing as nouns, verbs, clauses, and so on. You can not translate a painting into text, nor can you change the style of the painting – even if the subject or idea is identical – without changing what it is, and what it says.

      This style of (digital) painting is on the opposite end of the spectrum from my prior piece, the Ant Man. Instead of looking into a 3D illusional space, the canvas is flat and the imagery piled on top of it. Instead of rendering details, details are created by the brush strokes and paint themselves. It’s a completely different approach and uses different skill sets, though there is some overlap.

      Thanks for looking, reading, and commenting.


  2. I would never ask for something for free that I know a human put insight expertise and effort into. However, from a corporation where I know the profits don’t much go to the people who do the insight, expertise and effort there, I have few qualms asking or even not asking.
    Haven’t we all, though sometimes decades later, when we discover the lyrics to some song we loved say “well that’s embarrassing.” before we remember the context and how it worked for us then, and then through the mists of nostalgia still enjoy the song. I listened to Miles Davis and Beethoven in the ’60s and still do today w/out a tinge of nostalgia.
    Art is a language by one definition: the artist through the art “says” something and the art lover “hears” something from the art. Art speaks intelligibly to all art lovers, but is what the art says, what the artist said? And does that even matter?

    Liked by 1 person

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