Rationalé: Computer Painting
Computer painting carries with it a certain ethos, baggage and expectations - that it is a cool, rarefied, and mathematical artform or a vulgar tool of the popular mass media. I do not directly seek to overcome this mind-set or change the viewer's attitude toward the artform, instead I seek to change the viewer's attitude toward the subject matter by exploiting their preconceptions about what computer art should be. I want the viewer to go beyond his or her past prejudices. We build up walls against that kind of experience; it is a reality of modern life that we are bombarded with images of brutality and unfairness and that we routinely ignore them. Images of nature or people within a novel computer arts environment can carry messages that the audience normally filters out. It is, in this way, subversive.

This activity of reaching for the heart with a computer has a most welcome side effect - preconceptions about the nature of working within its strengths and limitations may also change. A new door opens for possibilities of beauty, awareness and uplifting of the spirit as the medium becomes transparent and the artwork is only itself.

Technique: Computer Painting
Work usually begins with a selection of photographs. The images are either my own photography or very old photos which I own. (Many of the old photos have been donated by people who wished to participate in the making of computer art; I am grateful to those of you who have contributed to this body of work.) Noise and sharpening filters, changes of resolution, transparency and colors, collages and distortions are used to alter the photographs. I can then respond to these changes with drawing and painting tools similar to those found in the material world, as well as some painting tools unique to digital painting. I find the ability to copy from one image to another with a digital brush, which can be defined in terms of size, shape, texture, flow, repetition, fading and transparency, to be particularly exciting.

At times, what appears to be painted is really a distorted photograph and what appears to be a photo is, in fact, painting with the mouse. The mouse is not the easiest tool with which to brush or draw, but the computer allows one to zoom in to the point that crude movements become reduced to very fine strokes. Sometimes it is preferable to work quickly with the image far away, so that one cannot see the details of hand movement- this technique will introduce new elements into the painting in an unforeseen manner. If the results are unsatisfactory, one has the luxury of returning to earlier versions of the painting to try again.

- M. Blair Ligon


copyright 2006, M. Blair Ligon, all rights reserved worldwide.