Touch Upon a Star: Art and Technology

Technology greatly influences the things we do each day – how we interact with friends, how we organize our work, and even how we express ourselves creatively. You might remember California-based artist Jeremy Sutton and his forward-thinking approach to art. A bright star in our local community, he has been changing the way we look at modern art.

“First of all, I am a very tactile sort of artist. So the feeling of the medium is very important to me—it always has been,” explains Jeremy. Moving from painting on a canvas to a digital screen is a highly sensory transition, but it also changes how an artist interacts with his art and creativity.

We sat down with Jeremy to discuss the transition from paper to digital painting – here is what he had to say:

Question: What do you say to people who believe that you lose something when moving from traditional painting to digital?

Answer: When I first started digital painting, it was with a Wacom tablet and on a Mac – Wacom is a piece of smooth plastic. So I went from grainy paper to smooth plastic to create a mark. So, in terms of the physical tactility, yes, there was a difference. I lost the roughness and messiness. However, what I have found as an artist, is that everything I do is moving towards that sense of tactility.

Even the way I draw and paint with digital media is still very tactile. I have compensated for the physical smoothness and interfaces. I’ve compensated for that by internally feeling the tactility of my brush strokes and paint.

Question: How does painting with a tool like the Touchjet Pond Projector compare to older mediums?

Answer: What’s really interesting about the Pond is that using it on the rough canvas surface was the first time that I’ve felt in twenty five years of using digital paint media the physical resistance of an actual brush stroke – that rough feel I enjoy when I make a mark with physical media.

Question: How do you teach your students to paint in a away that has a tactile feel to it?

Answer: With teaching digital art, as with any art medium, you initially have to get to familiar with the feel, behaviors and capabilities of your tools and materials. I get them to push the limits of the digital media, just as I would with traditional media, and get a visceral and experiential sense of the dynamic range of the tools. In traditional media I would have them really push those crayons into the paper, and assure them that it doesn’t matter if they break the crayons or tear the paper. It’s the same digitally.

You won’t break the Wacom pen or graphics tablet or the computer or the software! Push things to the limits and get to know how wide, deep and dark a mark you can make with different tools, and how varied a mark you can produce with a single tool. Start playing and push the limits of what you can make. Then it’s time to have fun with the tools and create art

As technology continues to transform the approaches we take to our daily routines, Jeremy’s work reminds us of one very important thing… Exploring new ways of doing things can open up a universe of possibilities. This is what makes Jeremy one of our Touchjet stars. If you know a star in your own community, we want to hear from you! Use #TouchUponAStar to share your message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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