Thursday, June 13, 2024

More Digital Art by JJ, with a nod to Saint Anthony

Here is some of the latest artwork from JJStudios!

I’m not referring to the fifteenth-century image of Saint Anthony of Padua (Anonymous, from Cordoba, Spain) that you see here first. Rather, as Summer draws near, I wanted to present some of my own “Scenes of May and June” (below) on today’s feast of Saint Anthony, who is one of the beloved patron saints of my late father, Walter Anthony Janaro II. I miss Dad. He always appreciated my “nature posts” on this blog. I think about and pray for my Dad especially on Saint Anthony’s Day.

And, of course, Saint Anthony is important to his father before him (WAJ I, the grandfather I never met who died in 1944), and the still-very-much-alive Walter Anthony Janaro III—my older brother, who is generally known in these parts simply as “Walter” (just one name, like a rock star) or, around the family, “Uncle Walter.” It’s funny that I have gone into all this description of three generations of Janaro men, because this post was not supposed to be about them. It’s a “virtual exhibit” by JJStudios, but things, and relationships, and our work, and our plans are wider and more meaningful than we realize. Saint Anthony knew this, and he continues to help us to recognize and remember God’s love and mercy in the ordinary details of life.

Saint Anthony, pray for my grandfather, my father, and my brother. Pray for all of us.

And now, about these pictures—they are works that arise from meditations on the natural world and experiments in digital artistic techniques of different kinds. They usually originate from photographs that I have taken in my local environment. In the past—historically-speaking it was not too long ago—photography itself was considered a new and strange technological “trick” for capturing and presenting “realistic” images. It took some time for photographers to discover the proper artistic possibilities of their own medium. They had to work at it and take pictures, lots of pictures. 

Now we have new digital techniques for manipulating photographic images. There are more and more of them all the time. They seem like techniques for cheating, deceiving, and banalizing image-making. But we hope that they can also be used wisely, and in the service of beauty and creativity. We must discover the possibilities of digital and even so-called “AI” as complex tools, as further media that can be shaped by bodily persons whose ways of communicating always involve the use of “physical” media. It will take time and much attention to discover distinctive visual portrayals with these media that authentically convey the vision and labor of human personal creativity. But we have every reason to think that here too, beauty can shine through.

That is certainly my hope. This blog continues to be a place where I share my efforts and experiments and—mostly—failures as a digital media artist. 

I am not afraid of the failures (though, of course, I don’t aim to fail, and I certainly don’t like to fail). Mostly, I try to learn from failure. I learn the limits of these media, and become more focused on their real possibilities. I move forward in an education in craft, creativity, and finding beauty.