For the past couple of years, I've been moving towards a merging of drawing and painting "in the hard" and on the computer. I don't own PhotoShop, I work with a line drawing program called Xara, a direct descendent of Draw Plus from the old Acorn Archimedes days which I fell in love with around 1990.
I can't begin to imagine the amount of time I've spent over the years working with various incarnations of these vector programs, and in the past I've joked that I could probably re-create the Mona Lisa if I wanted to.
It may well be that the "line drawing" nature of the vector software may have had something to do with my breakthrough on painting anything at all if you reduce it to the right components, and later on, with the lines of movement that create the Symbol Paintings, which in turn led to Art Solutions.
The dawn of the Internet brought another component into the mix that had previously not been a problem - namely taking photographs of the paintings and putting them online.
Any visual artist must know just how painful it is to see a vibrant, powerful painting reduced to a teensy image that really does not represent the work of art at all or in any shape or form; and although people say that they can mentally adjust and "imagine" what the actual painting looks like, they can't.
It drove my past aspects to distraction. I can't begin to know how many hours I've spent myself, how many lights and types of lights I've bought, how many lenses and cameras over the years, to try and do the original paints some kind of justice. I've hired professional photographers too and they failed even more spectacularly than I had.
There are three main components to explain this. One is the use of numerous glazes that shift all the colours beneath in various ways. The second is the use of metallic paints and gold in particular. It just doesn't photograph right. The third is my tendency to shift colours in paints not just by mixing them together, but mixing in other things, such as mica, fluorescent/iridescent flakes and glow-in-the-dark powder which just looks flat and dead on a photograph, but pops and makes the painting sparkle in real life.
Eventually, it occurred to me that it was just the ENERGY that was wrong/off in the photographs. The photographs had a different ENERGY than the originals. It wasn't that the energy (component/information) was simply turned down somewhat, it was completely wrong. Like instead of turning down the volume on a radio station, you tune into a totally different radio station that plays the wrong kind of song!
I can't remember the first time I took an original painting and turned it into a vector version of the same painting.
This involves obviously the lines, that's the easy part, and then figuring out how to do the colours, blends, shapes and so forth and put them all together so that there is at least some correlation between the energy of the original work of art, and the energy of the vector version, which can then be put on the web or printed out and it sings the right song.
This was great, a huge relief, and I could also then print out versions and people could take them home and be happy with them.
Some paintings could also go into magazines and onto book covers, even on T-Shirts, cups and such. Very freeing!
The work flow then was as follows.
Create the concept -> get a canvas -> draw the lines -> fill them in -> take a photograph -> recreate the lines in Xara -> adjust the rest of it so it has a similar energy to the original, so "it sings the same song."
That's how we go from ...
... to ...
Soul Pilots - Vector Version
I was happy. My art is energy art, so having at least an approximation of the energy of the original was really important to me. Now I had a way of rendering the paintings for the web and for print. I also had a way of re-creating "lost" paintings of which only a teensy 1996 style, dial up modem sized thumbnail now remained.
It was enjoyable doing this, but then there came the day and for the first time, it went the other way around.
First, the vector and then the painting.
This resulted in "Make Love Your Goal."
Make Love Your Goal, Vector Version
Make Love Your Goal - Painting
Now we come to the current state of affairs, and the question about Vector Art.
Here are three paintings, done for an online competition entitled "New Beginnings."
New Beginnings - click to view larger
The first one, Life Will Find Its Way, had its lines drawn by hand on a whiteboard pad, rather than on a canvas. It went straight to vector from there, as did the third, "New Beginnings."
The middle one, Weaving Your Destiny, is a straight vector, there was no "original painting" and no big board design, just a doodle on a piece of paper, a spiral with supporting spider strands.
So here we are with the big question - is vector art art?
I'd say, absolutely. Vector art *is* art. It's just a different modality, a new modality. A bit like photography in that way. Before it was invented, there was no photography and now that we have it, some artists choose that modality.
There was no vector drawing a few decades ago, and now there is. I am an artist, and I am capable with vector based image creation.
I can easily now replicate these vector pieces and create "an original work of art" from each one of them. They won't look exactly the same, because in order for them to "sing the same song" in a totally different form of existence, they will need to be adjusted accordingly.
It's a fascinating thing, but for me personally, it's having your cake and eating it. If I want, I can have these entirely unique, original works of art (solutions!) AND I can have web images, print images, posters and everything else we can now use high resolution images for.
Yes, and of course, you can turn them all into grids so other people can colour them in as well while we're there :-)
I think that's quite wonderful - even if there are art snobs who don't understand that the creative process and the time spent in deep meditation to get the energy just right is exactly the same for a "hard" painting as it is for a vector drawing. At least for me it is.
I'm an energy artist, and at the end of the day, it's all about the energy.