Monday, February 7, 2022

“Faces” and “Winter Scenes” from JJDigitalArtStudios

Self-Portrait? I’m not quite so wrinkled yet. I scrinched up my face deliberately in the original model photo.

I have been working a lot with images lately. The vast majority of my pictures never get posted, including some that I think are pretty good. The reasons why I share some things here or on other platforms are not clear to me. I know that I would rather not post something unless I feel that I’m “done” with it, and that it might have value for others. There are many other “works-in-progress” and even more “clutter” (fortunately, it’s virtual clutter).

Tools for visual creativity on the Internet are in an “expansion mode” right now. I don’t even have the “fancy stuff.” But I have improved my “digital palette” quite a bit over the past year, and I have extended my study to portraiture (mostly with myself as a “model,” along with a few athletes and celebrities whose images are everywhere). I have no interest in outlandish facial distortions, combining human and animal faces, and all that weird stuff. But the overall capacity to render a photographic portrait in cartoon form, and to vary light, shadow, colors, textures, etc. are things that I have been doing, even as the different possibilities for “presenting the human face” seem to be increasing by the week as the AI technicians try to outdo one another.

The geography of the human face is inexhaustible and full of wonders. Some of the techniques aim to remove all flaws and transform “AI faces” into bland avatars. Much is lost in this obsession with homogeneity. Portraits have their origins in the impressions of real faces that belong to real persons, however much change or originality the artist might introduce. For me, the dignity of the human person remains foundational, whether presenting an image that represents someone real (in which case I hope not only to respect, but to honor such persons) or constructing a “fictional face” which remains a type of our humanity and the persons who share it as our brothers and sisters.

I don’t know how much the present “AI technique boom” will really be useful. Most of the trending themes are fads. I am trying to discern what has value for my own artistic purposes (and trying to keep those purposes focused). My work leads to many dead ends, with some occasional progress, and virtual clouds full of failed experiments. But no sheets of paper are used. No trees have to die for my art.

Speaking of “dead trees” (and some live ones too) here are some “Winter Scenes” from 2022 thus far: