Butter Pecan Mountains by MC
After three years and some 300 digital artworks, I have managed to sell my first “painting”, the one above titled Butter Pecan Mountains. I put painting in quotes because I hesitate to describe what I do as painting since I have never used actual paint,brushes and canvas. Everything I have done so far has been purely digital. In fact, I started “painting” only with the rise of various digital apps, in particular Pixlr and Fresh Paint.
The painting here began as a couple of broad brushstrokes in deep brown on the bottom left corner. I was initially going for replicating some of the innovative graphics I saw in the Netflix series ‘Marco Polo’. Soon enough, it started going upward in a way that began to look like mountains. Mountains and space are my default visuals. I start a lot of my artworks with either mountains or space in mind.
It was while doing this particular work that I again began thinking about the film versus digital debate. Filmmakers are divided over whether digital filmmaking is a good thing for their profession or they should stick to traditional film. The purists among filmmakers argue that the grain, texture and depth that film offers cannot be matched by digital, which they find flat and clinical. Of course, there are as many on the other side of the divide who believe digital is an extraordinary step forward since it affords remarkable ease, economy, portability and the ability to experiment without spending on the film stock. This debate has always interested me but never directly affected me other than while watching movies.
However, now that I have become a regular digital art maker (I hesitate to call myself a painter), I do concern myself with digital versus paint. I must admit that there is no such serious debate going on. It mostly exists in my mind.
It is highly doubtful if I would have ever become a productive art maker had it not been entirely for the rise of digital apps. In that sense, the close to 300 artworks I have created so far are a product of one such app, namely the very versatile Fresh Paint. It does a stellar job of offering canvas-like digital surfaces and a range of paints and styles to anyone trying to tap the inner artist. For me the draw is also the fact that there is no mess that attends the traditional paint-brush-canvas-studio exercise. However, real painters would tell you that what I call mess is intrinsic to creating real art. May be so but I have not yet warmed up to it. Perhaps I will one day soon.
Although digital paintings look reasonably real on a computer screen, when transferred to paper as prints they do lack the texture, grain and depth of real paintings. They can look flat and clinical but even the printing technology is changing and might soon offer something that looks like real painting.
Drear friend and fellow journalist turned full time artist Prakash Bal Joshi and I discussed this subject on his last visit to Chicago. He told me about how he takes care to choose paint and canvas to ensure that his works will last a couple of centuries. More often than not he sources his material from Europe. That care shows in the quality of Prakash’s works. He has rapidly emerged as an important new artist out of India whose works have been exhibited and bought around the world.
In contrast, I am a digital hack who is able to occasionally create something visually striking. I would not even remotely classify myself as a painter. So it was particularly heartening when someone decided to buy the Butter Pecan Mountains. Gujarati traders and merchants have the concept of “boni” which refers to the first sale of the day. However small that sale may be they regard “boni” as most important because it sets the ball rolling. The sale of the Butter Pecan Mountains is my “boni” which will hopefully lead to bigger sales in the coming days and weeks and months and years. Can I possibly drop a cruder hint?