Michelangelo’s Computer: Digital vs Traditional Art

What if Michelangelo had access to a computer. What creations would he conjure? What works of art would grace this modern age? Imagine him not being limited by materials, physical tools, colors, or even the sun?

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” ~Michelangelo

Many people feel traditional art is more important, more real. The thinking goes that a traditional artist went thru the pain and time it takes to master the hard things, like pencils, brushes, and manually mixing color via pigments. While a digital “artist” just buys some expensive equipment and violà that’s all it takes.

The thing to remember is that the computer is a tool. It allows for the creation process to be more convenient. There’s no need to clean your brushes, to have room for an easel or block of marble, to run to the art store to buy another chisel or pencil. Wouldn’t the great masters from the past benefited greatly from all these shortcuts?

The thing that a computer does not do is make the creation of art easy. An artist must decide what line to add, what shape to make, what to keep in and more importantly what to leave out. For an artist the process of creating an image that people will recognize or react to in a certain way takes time and skill, no matter what the medium. Drawing great artwork on paper vs on a digital canvas file is no different, both are unbelievably difficult to accomplish.

Most people can hold a pencil, most people can control a line, but most people can’t make art. Most people can type words and sentences, but most can’t write a good book. There’s a difference between craft skill and artistic skill. Craft skill is knowing how to use a tool, Artistic skill is knowing how to use a tool to create something beautiful. Artistic skill is the power to breathe life into something.

All of us have a visual database in our heads, but you have to practice to be able to translate what’s in your mind into artwork that people will enjoy to look upon. What good is a story that you never tell anyone. Every tool has a technique to it and it’s thru practice that you can discover the best way to control it, to have it move the way your mind needs it to.

“A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.” ~Michelangelo

Having digital tools is cheaper and cleaner. Think of all the art supplies that a computer replaces, paint tubes are not cheap. There is an infinite amount of digital paper, digital brushes, digital colors to your disposal inside a computer and a digital drawing application.

Digital tools are faster, there’s no need to wait for the paint to dry or to stop to sharpen another pencil. No need to take your time carefully erasing something because you don’t want the paper to crease. Layers allow you to quickly move around your digital canvas. You can also use a computer at any time of day or night, whereas a master like Michelangelo was limited by the hours of the day when the sun was out.

But don’t be fooled, we all have access to a word processor but not all of us can write a novel that moves and inspires. It takes a real artist to be able to combine the right words to bring about story in our minds. Being able to use a hammer does not make you a house builder. Having a computer does not make you a digital artist. There must be endless hours invested in mastering any tool and being able to create art with it, whether that tool is digital or not.

Michelangelo would take a computer and create work that none of us could ever imagine was possible, it is not the tool but the artist behind the tool that allows for art to be made.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” ~Michelangelo

carlos Written by:

Comments are closed.