Could I make paintings without paint?
Until 2020 I thought the answer was no. I used pixel-pushing applications to make vector compositions and photographs, but no digital tool seemed to generate visual ideas like those I developed with oil paint.
I paint a picture with a limited range of oil colors and count on “happy accidents” that occur while making marks to expand the picture’s range of hues and values. I also start with thin layers and build up to heavy impasto brushstrokes, interweaving notes and opacities to create a complex surface. That not-quite-in-control process never happened fluidly with pixels.
Then I used Adobe Fresco to complete Inktober, making one “ink and wash” drawing for each day of October 2020. The results were promising, so I designed a similar challenge for 2021: make one “oil painting” a week.
These fifty-two works are the cinquantadue experiment. Each one also utilizes a limited range of colors applied in multiple layers of interwoven notes and opacities.
Like oil paint, Adobe Fresco has some eccentricities: close inspection reveals a regular “sawtooth” pattern simulating impasto, and a fun bug in the “watercolor” bleed effect sometimes spews magenta. But the app delivers most of the visual ideas I improvise on canvas with no need to watch paint dry. And an appealing bonus: no brushes to wash.