Will digital paintings soon be etched in art lovers, acknowledged in museums?

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 : Will digital paintings soon be on par with traditional art in the country, capturing the heart of local connoisseurs of art, and be wholeheartedly acknowledged in our museums?

Many critics seem to place a certain degree of bias against digital art as compared to traditional art, with most people are under the impression that digital art is less impressive and may not really be considered art until it achieves similar acceptance and prestige.

However, an artist from a small picturesque town in the United Kingdom recently made history when she became the first British female artist to have a solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery, exhibiting both her digital and abstract paintings entitled, ‘Instinct and Experiences’, at the National Art Gallery here last month.

A total of 32 of Rachel Gray’s artworks were put on display.

Gray, 30, showed she could bring together traditional oil paintings and contemporary digital wildlife portraits in one place.

“If we talk about the acceptance of digital art among Malaysians, I do believe people now are more accepting…which is a relief and wonderful to see. Some people do think that my work is just a photoshopped photograph and that I can make lots of short cuts to get to the completed portrait but this is not the case. It’s so much more than that,” she told Bernama here recently.

She started painting when she was two years old and her enthusiasm for both traditional and digital art lead her to become a fully qualified artist and lecturer in Illustration and Animation from the Newcastle College and Northumberia University.

Gray takes great pride in the fact that no Adobe Photoshop, pattern brushes, filters, colour or image manipulation were used at any stage in her wildlife portraits.

“They are painted from scratch from my own wildlife photography. I study each animal for as long as they allow me to, making many sketches before I start painting the portraits,” she said.

“Take ‘Scent’, which is a portrait of a leopard. I just know the right moment to paint from, whilst I look at the animal, as I try to capture its character, thoughts and soul into the painting, to tell its story.

“I sat there for ages, watching the leopard, they are so beautiful, suddenly it pushed up its shoulders and tried to sniff something…it gave me a moment of the animal’s instincts, just for a second and I knew that was the moment that I really wanted to paint. It takes about 50 to 100 hours to paint each portrait,” she noted.

“The colourful green tones of the jungle are reflected under the chin of the leopard, making you feel that the leopard is part of the jungle. The rare and stunning wildlife found here in Malaysia needs to be protected, they are also a huge inspiration for me,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gray’s abstract work is highly influenced by her travels and experiences in Malaysia and Asia as a whole, as she incorporates vibrant colours, brush strokes and palette knives to work into each of her paintings.

“I adore colours, so my oil works are striking, vibrant and loud. Within the background of each piece, I brush layers and layers of oil paint onto the canvas until the perfect hue is created,” she said.

Gray’s artwork has already been exhibited throughout Malaysia, including Gallery Shah Alam in March, a group exhibition with the World Wildlife Fund in Penang in early October and her latest was a solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery.

The details of her artworks can be viewed at www.rgportraits.com or Instagram RACHELGRAY.ARTIST for more information.

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