Paint Outside the Frame – Digital Painting Comes of Age

If you have been reading along with this blog, you’ve seen posts questioning whether the term giclée is passé, rhetorically asking “What Is a Giclée?” and suggesting the term, “Convergent Media” is more appropriate than digital art. The situation is that digital media and communication continues to take a larger role in our lives. The blog you are reading now is a cool by-product of digital media and Web development. The picture below is the work of Convergent Media Artist, Steven Friedman and is featured on the home page of the Digital Painting Forum. Ballet_folklorico_6

To those born soon enough that life without Game Boys, text messaging and DVRs is inconcievable, I predict the notion digitally rendered art can be construed as fine art will go without question. The rest of us have, or will catch up in due time or let it pass as something we never got. Me, I’ve had maybe four text messages in my life and don’t feel a need for any more any sooner…but don’t think about asking me to give up my blog or Internet connection. And, don’t tell me exquisite art can’t be created from bits and bytes.

Marilyn Sholin is the tireless founder of the Paint Outside the Frame Website, aka Digital Painting Forum. She is a terrific talented artist who is also a teacher, promoter, instigator and shrewd business person. She started the forum as a way to help some friends and associates get more from the evolving tools for digital artists such as Corel Painter. The site quickly grew to a large membership.

Unlike nearly any other board you’ll find for just about any hobby or profession that uses free memberships to lure visitors, DPF has a modest fee to particpate. Just enough to make sure members are serious about their involvement in the online community. Member fees are often the kiss of death for things once given free. As an example, Toronto, Ontario once offered free wi-fi for the entire city and boasted 400,000 users. When the city decided it was too expensive to keep up and put a fee in place, the number plummeted to 4,000.  By contrast, the Digital Painting Forum has more than 2,600 and growing members on its paid site. Those figures testify to Marilyn’s stewardship and the unabiding interest in digital painting.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

The DPF boards are quite active with more than 47,000 posts. You can find numerous other artists free to join community boards that get a fraction of the volume of threads and posts found on the DPF. If you have an interest in pursuing digital painting as an adjunct to your tactile painting or are just looking to start a pleasurable hobby, you’ll find lots of great information and a fun, helpful bunch of folks who you can interact with on the DPF.

I’m not advocating digital over traditional forms of painting and drawing. I think there will always be room for every kind of art. In fact, I think it would be a shame if traditional art lost too many devotees due to involvement with digital painting. There is a corollary with graphic art and the evolving digital art. I’ve seen many so-called graphic designers who were self-taught on Photoshop and other programs, but who lacked a fundamental knowledge of typography, color, and layout concepts. I think it was due to a lack of training on the fundamentals. That this can happen or will happen with digital painters is quite likely and a pity.

Much of the sampled hip hop music that has been popular now for nearly as long a rock n’ roll was is another example. You have talented musicians who sample and borrow as opposed to sitting and Moderntimes composing on guitar or piano. Some of it is great stuff, but perhaps that old fart who doesn’t text has to admit he misses the singer/songwriter genre of his youth, too. Since I digress to music, there is a valid reason Bob Dylan’s Modern Times got a positive response. It’s a rocking good album from a guy (singer/songwriter) older yet than me.

I’m not saying all digital painters sample and borrow, or just get technical skills on the software and hardware without the basics on drawing, color theory, composition, and perspective. But as in any of the arts, the one’s who avoid getting steeped in the basics will have big holes in their capabilities which will thwart their ability to continually improve their work.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use


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  1. I am an active member of Paint Outside the Frame Forum and can attest to the wonderful info and talent that is shared by all the members. Digital painting is more than a hobby for many of us. I am a graphic designer turned painter. I understand your feelings about lack of formal training but hope that doesn’t dissuade the budding artist. The creative outlet that digital painting presents to those who haven’t worked with traditional methods is very rewarding, producing fabulous works that can be hung and appreciated. I thank Marylin Sholin for her dedication to furthering the convergent art form.

  2. Thanks Barney for the good word and for all you do for the art community. We strive to not only teach how to create art but how to create artists. The forum is overloaded with talent and information and we all share with each other. A truly cohesive community.
    Your blog is a must read for anyone who is an artist or ever wants to be one.


  3. Thanks to Marilyn and Sue for commenting on my post. I didn’t mean to come off as harsh regarding a lack of formal training. There are innumerable artists and graphic artists who never received any formal, but who nevertheless do tremendous work. For that matter, I’m pretty sure Bob Dylan didn’t go to Julliard either. I only point out that software being so powerful and easy to use sometimes enables well meaning artists to avoid getting knowledge, self-taught or traditional means, of the fundamentals and that hurts their work.

    I also realize digital painting is as much a career as a hobby for those who participate in DPF. That’s great! I’ve known many hobbyists whose work would easily stand up in the commercial markets, but who just don’t want to ruin the pleasure of the pursuit by making it a commercial venture. I once asked my talented brother-in-law, who makes incredible hot rod drag cars in his garage why he didn’t just open up a speed shop and make money from something about which he is both passionate and enormously talented. His reply was, “Why would I do that and ruin my hobby? I work to be able to spend time in the garage doing what I want on my own time without deadlines or pressure.” So, there is room for all in art and other pursuits regardless of what one’s intentions are about getting it into the market.

  4. Thanks for yet another great blog entry, Barney! Having been with Paint Outside the Frame for a couple of years thus far, I can attest to the great sense of community, and even family, that this special forum creates for its many members. It has been quite an adventure so far for me to be able to see budding digital artists come into the forum as complete beginners and progress over time to become better artists, either through implementing “the basics” over time as they are learned or by simply practicing their craft.

    On “the basics,” I partially agree with your statements and opinion. These methods are “tried and true” and are definitely capable of helping an artist create a more successful work of art in the eyes of a more diverse group. At the same time, I constantly see work that defies every one of the inherent art “truths” that just simply would not be as successful if the basics were more strictly followed. I, for one, am very excited that art can be seen and created in so many different ways and look forward to seeing that continually expand as new media and methods are discovered.


  5. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your comments and thoughts. They are indicative of the passion and committment to the DPF community and the digital painting processes it supports.

    I don’t disagree with you. Breaking the rules to explore and stretch one’s art is a key to art reaching new heights and being seen in new ways. But, it is the rare artist that transcends his or her medium or era without first having mastered the fundamental knowledge that forms the basis for invention and creativity. This is not to say such knowledge has to be attained academically, but rather not having a good grasp, however attained, on such things as color theory, composition, perspective, lighting, chiaroscuro and so on makes making one’s best art more difficult. Do some folks inherently come by such knowledge? Without question, but it’s rare.

    Most of us get much better at what we do when we command the basics of the art form. I can turn a pretty good phrase now and then, but it would be much tougher task if I had never learned diagram a sentence. And, it’s not to say I don’t still dangle a participle now and then either. Still, I usually know when I do and am able to correct it which improves my communication. The English basics I learned continue to inform and support my writing ability. BTW, I practice what I preach and am re-reading for the umpteenth time, Strunk and White’s, “The Elements of Style.” A book anyone who writes whether it be letters, bios, blogs, artist’s statements, brochures, Web or direct mail copy or anything else ought to avail themselves of as a ready reference. At a a mere 85 pages, one can read the entire thing in short order and I guarantee you’ll come away a better communicator for having done so.

  6. Hi Barney what a great blog you have so informative,im a longtime member of Marilyns forum and was so happy to see your review as she’s a wonderful teacher.

    I would also like to suggest u review the forum of Karen Bonaker i am also a member there and have taken many of her classes,these two ladies are my mentors in digital art and i have made many new friends via their forums.

    Thanks again Bev langby

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