From Pig’s Bladders to Facebook

One of my more "painterly" works influenced by my color theory teacher and Impressionism.
One of my more “painterly” works influenced by my color theory teacher and Impressionism.

The French Impressionists, in finding freedom from the use of pig bladders, discovered a modern advance that enhanced time-honored practices in the making of paintings.  Contemporary artists, even those who paint in a very traditional manner, continue to find ways to use things like social networking and other technologies to bring to life new images as well as replicas of ancient subject matter.

The Smithsonian magazine (May 2013) explains that before the invention of the tin tube by American portrait painter John G. Rand, artists would laboriously mix oil paints and put them in pig bladders to keep them from drying out.  At the start of a new painting day the artist would use a tack and put a hole in the pig bladder to squeeze out the paint.  But besides being messy, there was no way to recap the bladder.  Expensive paint would dry up and the output of labor meant artists would only use a few colors at a time.  That is until the tin tube    Not only would the paint keep longer, artists could carry more colors and go outside to paint those vibrant landscapes.  A modern advance (tin tubes) had a big impact on the art history.

When I was pursuing my art career back in the 90’s, I used photographs as reference material.  Artists have done so ever since photography became commonplace.  Then as ministry became a focal point of my life I stayed out of my studio for the better part of fifteen years.  When I returned to my studio this past February I found new tools at my disposal.  Photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop has allowed me to work through some pictorial problem solving before a brush touched my canvas. Taking photos in the process of creating the painting allows ways for me to evaluate my progress and have an added perspective in critiquing my work.  Sharing artwork on social networks such as facebook, twitter and even this blog site allows opportunity for feedback which has been very helpful in discovering what resonates with individuals.

Some things never change.  King Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun.  The time-honored practices of producing art still makes for quality art work.  Yet, God gives us the magnificent gift of creativity and innovation to enhance those traditional practices and push the limits of new technologies and ways to celebrate our visual world and give honor to the One who created it.


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