The Digital Painting Skill Set

I’m convinced that digital painting has it’s own set of rules, especially regarding construction/deconstruction and the specifics of the “medium”. Air quotes for a few different reasons: 1a Beside the point, there’s nothing medium about mediums, they’re always large or small, in practicality, and looming-wise.
1b. Application of color whatever medium, rules.
2. Digital painting requires facility with specialized tools, an understanding of how to bend the rules, and needs to employ color calibration visually on-screen and for print foundation:).
3. Complex selection isn’t something that can be done on a canvas, excepting perhaps collage.
4. Visual acuity is a requirement even more than typical and re-orienting hand skills is a basic.


Mandalas have been an important theme spanning a lifetime, starting in the early 70’s at the Boston Museum School. I showed Mandalas I’d meticulously painted during my final review board prior to graduation at the Boston Museum School. I’d begun working with them in my second semester studying Asian Arts, history, ideas with Joan Lebold Cohen. Aside, I was very fortunate to have had the artist, who later became art dealer, Pat Hearn, on my review board that time. I remember she’d wide-eyed expressed that she didn’t know I was also a painter, having known my work in video, film, sound, performance, which was a focus in the last 4 semesters especially. I suppose if I’d gone to New York in the 80’s I’d have been a known entity of the Boston School, I knew them all and worked with most, and for reasons I can’t explain adequately here, I stayed in MA to live on Cape Cod.

      365 animated gifs, some of which you xan see here, were created as a challenge, my new year’s resolution of 2019: I will do a mandala-a-day for a full year and post them daily on twitter. It was a most expansive challenge to be able to accomplish given my overloaded schedule, having taken on the role of a caregiver these last few years. and also needing to focus on music, technology and design. I started with single images, digital drawings, and in a few weeks evolved into animated gifs, which after time I became more facile with doing. You can find all of them, scroll down a bit, at  tweets/tipotato

Digital Work

what does digital photography do for my art? it is a new unique way of “painting”- What makes it unique is the painterly attention to the image that I can get using a low resolution 3.5 mp. First the photo itself must have the composition, framed as a painting is – any image will tell a story, it is told with relativity, balance, focus. Then the subtle and interesting aspects of the image are developed using handwork, complex selection – elements will be hand-drawn to emphasize a line, shape, contrasting planes, etc. With a painterly approach the final piece is complete in “emotional” likeness, and potentially reflects a new reality.


Often, with understanding art, the less said, the more direct the experience. I notice that there is an almost sterile environment in the websites of most serious creative people. As if the curriculum vitae and the work itself says enough, there is no attempt to explain, enhance or break down. Such communication left sparse allows the viewer/participant to explore on their own terms. And formally trained artists already “get” it, no words required.

But, I have an issue with that. Why? Because there are segments of society, such as health insurances, tax information, protocols for paperwork, etc. that I don’t understand save for base level acquaintance. And when I search for information, it astounds me that more often than not, the information sources have a high-level assumption that I already know what they are talking about. I have to keep insisting that I’m really stupid about these things in order to gain a satisfactory answer to a simple question.

And it came to my attention in 2005-06, when as an “artist-in-residence” with a local program, given a public space to work and show, that many of my visitors were as clueless about art as I was about things like taxes, probably because of the finance cuts over the last decades to art edu in public schools. I found myself more and more having to talk about art in ways that people with no background education could understand.

And so, if I communicate over-the-top in terms of modern approaches to showing art in a website, it is because I no longer can assume that my visitors understand the basics I take for granted.



The increments of a schedule of steps, task-focused accomplishment of objective. Each event in a series of queued tasks can be both preparatory or precursory, all before knowing the full scope. The choices of direction, enhancement, attention to, vision, etc. determine whether one continues following a delineated path or departs toward a different destination, again, not fully known before the fact.

There are 3. different ways I understand Process in making art: 1. The art is the process. 2. The  process creates an event or object. 3. The process is regenerative, one door closes, another door opens. 

However, the entire stimulus of the process comes from where, or what? I couldn’t answer the question, and I had an issue earlier in my career, with becoming over-ridden in process. I perceived it as dry, intricate, but lifeless. To this day I always feel like process without heart removes the artist from the creation. And I also know, above that, removing the creator from the creation is also an art, maybe a science, but practically impossible:) and it is not necessary for good art to thrive sans ego, that would be asking for all color to drop away in a wide field with “purple mountain majesties” and “amber waves of grain”. (“America the Beautiful”-Katharine Lee Bates) Simply, the piece has a destination, one commits to it’s safe arrival.

about me

I am an artist, born that way. Every day after school growing up I sat in our family room, where a Formica counter-top built into the wall had a wide desk area, and I’d draw, from my imagination, with colored pencils, pen and ink and watercolor, and often mixed them. and by the time I was 8 I had stacks of sketchbooks. I have to admit that by 10 I became fascinated with fashion, and dreamed and drew up my fantasies about what people wear. In high school I was serious about art and music, started drawing from life as well as exploring imagination, and was sewing Nehru jackets, bell-bottoms trousers and Peter Pan-sleeved shirts lined with purple, bright green, magenta, golden yellow satin, for a rock band, Moving their arms, the color would flash.
I won a prize, in high school, from our town for a pen and ink w/watercolor painting I did of a tree in the park, during an all-day “art festival” in public where we students of art spent the day working outside while tourists and by-standers poked about. At 16 I was hired to make pen & ink drawings of gift-related products for a local candle company’s catalog. My first experience with commercial art. And I thought of it as a sideline.

Contrary to the advice given in art school, and pretty obviously by then, I never settled on one specialty*, to develop as my signature language, to be able to facilitate a career with painting, or drawing, or sculpture, or any one thing. No, I had to unfold ambitions over time without a rock. Because of a practical side in my nature and a romance gone terribly wrong, I went to work upon graduation, dong every and any art job I could find. I drew designs to be stamped into metal jewelry. I did photography, framed and sold and won a prize for it in an art exhibit. I photographed models wearing outfits for newspaper ads, and then turned the photos into fine point pen and ink before delivering them to be printed. I illustrated a children’s instruction manual on careers in Science, an edu program created to teach career awareness at a younger age in our public elementary schools. I hand-painted lamp-bases to match fabrics for an interior designer. I hand-painted seashell jewelry, and denim skirts for a gift shop. I designed greeting cards for publishers, I did graphic design for a printing company, I designed clothing for ceramic figure dolls. Patterns for paper goods and fabrics. Packaging design.
Rattan furniture blueprints for manufacturing. Clock-faces, vases, lamp-bases for manufacture. Fine jewelry blueprint design.

I went on, when my largest-volume freelance design job offered me a position as creative director in the art dept of their out-of-state factory making screen-printed textiles, I moved to Mystic, CT and did that job for 10 years, moved back and did another similar job for a local designer, and became involved with art licensing. I did that for just three years before deciding to leave the corporate art field and get back to my work, informed as it became as a result of the experience.

I designed patterns, motifs, borders, etc. for companies in home furnishings, textiles, ceramics, giftware, etc. Photography was an important tool. Then it became an expression of art. I’d avoided it in art school, I had only one picture of Him. And it was blurry. But I knew how to handle any camera.
And I learned how to process and print in the darkroom. My enlarger is now an antique.

*at the time I had edu in several areas, including painting/drawing, sound, performance, film, and video, I did a video for Pat Hearn when we were at the Museum School in the 70’s. It was a music video for a fantasy band called “The Roommates” she and her roommate playing and singing topless. very avante-garde. I did another video for Gail Thacker, at her apartment, dyng someone’s hair black. I was videographer at a martial arts school. I introduced my friend and roommate Laetitia de Compiegne (Sonami) to the Museum School electronic music laboratory. I made slide shows accompanied by electronic music. Influenced by art history, color theory and practice, a lot of drawing, animation, film-making, and electronic music. Several odd short projects like biodegradle sculptures, japanese brush-painting, wooden painting cubes, a few semesters of print methods, etching, lithograph and silk-screen printing.