Painting Then & Now

Painting has been around for as long as anyone can recall. Dating back possibly 40,0000 years ago when the first cave paintings were created. Cave paintings often depicted images of animals and of people, usually hunting and it’s believed that these pieces of work were completed by  Neanderthals. In the beginning of painting that’s all painting was. Painting was there purely to recreate life in an image through representational shapes and forms and colours. Time passed and man’s skill to recreate life improved however it’s function was still the same. However, come the times of Egyptian artwork and hieroglyphics, we began to use art as a form to spread knowledge of religion  and gods. This continued through to the middle ages and was a large influence on art for a long time. Then came the ‘golden age’ of painting, the time between the 14th and mid-17th century when renaissance thrived. The Mona Lisa was also created during this time and it was an age where artists began to draw back away from the religious themes that had captured art for years and began again to draw the world around them and even things from their own imaginings. The Baroque and Rococo period followed after this with paintings that presented deep colours, and drastic contrasts of light and shadow. Paintings of this period, much unlike the renaissance, were meant to evoke emotion and passion rather than being depictions of calm scenes. Rococo in particular, became a kind of extension of Baroque and included paintings that became more erotic. After this, finally came the 18th and 19th centuries, which were incredibly large centuries for art, including the birth of Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Symbolism. These years were incredibly important as artists began to challenge the notion that they were only meant to create art for religion or history or portraiture. The idea of “art for art’s sake” began to show itself in the work of many artists, and genres of art that were minor or non-existant before began to flourish in this age of more independant artists.

Work of the past, even if it is ‘of the past’ will always be appreciated and admired by the people of today. It is beautiful and stunning and while artists today can try to replicate these works they will never create them the same, due to the numerous factors that effects each artist when they create a piece of artwork for the first time. Replication, however is something that artists these days constantly do in regards to their artworks and processes. Digital artists in particular.

The age of Digital art opened up many new possibilities for the art world, to make things crisper or shinier or brighter which is exciting and definitely expands the horizons of what we can do as artists, however the processes and steps we use in order to achieve the results we do are always influence by the work of the past. These days, digital artwork can often follow the rough steps of: thumbnail –> sketch –> flat colours –> Lineart or Painting. And at a first glance these steps seem to be something completely different to what artists in renaissance or the rococo period might have used, but in further analysis, all these steps are somehow inspired by them. Artists of the past, much like current artists, couldn’t begin painting or learning to paint from scratch. And the same’s with digital painting. without a basis for what the picture will be, how can you begin? Another thing to take into consideration is photoshop’s layer system. Painters of the past would need to paint each layer of the painting once at a time, carefully waiting for every layer to set before moving onto the next. We use the exact same technique in digital drawing programs today, however the only difference is that we’re lucky enough that we don’t have to wait hours or even days for other layers to dry before moving on. Thanks to the advancement of digital programs, we can start on new layers immediately! Digital art is constantly trying to replicate the beautiful gentleness of older centuries’ artwork but trying to achieve those same results in a way that’s quicker and easier for artists. Even the very tools in photoshop are named after the tools originally used by traditional artists. Not only that, but many artists create particular brush sets that are designed to look more like pencil work or watercolour work when used in the digital canvas. The advantage is of course, that we can use these brushes to give the same look of a traditional piece without the hassle of paint drying or being unable to take it with you when you go. We are constantly inspired by, trying to replicate and improve the techniques and styles we have adapted from the past, trying our best to succeed our ancestors while still maintaining the same quality of art they had. We’re still learning and trying to improve how we can create art in new medias and platforms but no matter how far we go, basic fundamentals and styles that we’ve been influenced by in the past, are never going to leave us.


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