The process of painting: Must an artist disconnect from modern life?

Imagine an artist working in his quiet studio, a slightly dark room with only one source of light on his painting. An easel, a small table with paints and one chair are the main objects in the room. Maybe there’s not even a chair because the painter works standing up. Maybe there’s his subject: a person or a slowly decomposing still life.  But not much else, the painter works in silent solitude. This is what many people see when they think of an artist at work.4613 023 - Copy

But in reality there will be few painters who still work like that. There will at least be modern lighting. A few good daylight lamps and more often a whole battery of fluorescent tubes turn the romantic studio into the modern workshop it really is.  Some painters will work in silence, but others have a good array of audio equipment softly playing classical music or blaring loud rocktunes. I use daylight from my window, a few fluorescent tubes and at least one light bulb, so I can see how the painting works in common “livingroom” conditions.  Up to this point it’s all at least forty year old technology.  There might even be a telephone.

In my studio there’s also a computer and I bet there are quite a few computers in painter’s studios. I use it to store photographs. Digital Photography is great for subjects that don’t like to sit still or to show people all over the world what my paintings look like. Oh, but for that you’ll need internet and a website too.  I also like to show people how the latest painting is going. There comes the weblog.  When I forget to update that log I get emails asking if I’ve gone on holiday.  So the modern painter can use email.  When I finish a painting I upload a picture to my website and if it’s for sale it goes in my webstore.

I must say it is a strange contrast when I think about it. All those digitools don’t make a painting, but they are part of the world.  Some would say a painter should move it out of the studio as painting is a purely manual occupation.  The painter should climb his ivory tower, shut the door, grind up his pigments and oils and paint some esotherical images. Well if you’d like to do that I’m sure that will make for beautiful paintings, but my preference is to link up with the world. I find it is interesting how this digital technology has entered our world and the world of most people. I’m still convinced internet is a road to showing art to a larger public. I’m so happy to read comments  from people far away or to see work from colleagues in places I had never heard of.  I know people suffer from information overload, but I’m convinced that is just one of the teething troubles. People will learn how to filter the information they need or want. Off course we run the risk that information and products will be smoothed down to ugly mediocrity by syndication or advertising, so we need to make sure Internet will remain the free platform it is now, by supporting open source applications and creative communities.

I have no idea what the future of  modern communications will bring us, but I am convinced I’ll be using them for a long time. In my studio, next to the ancient brushes and slowly drying oils.

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