PIA and digital art, an interview with Robert Althouse

‘Abstract’ digital art by Robert Althouse, 2015

Robert Althouse has expressed himself in many ways:  painter, gardner, computer tech, priest, Zen master, Zen counseling, digital artist to name a few.  Several of his digital art pieces are featured in Arte of Now:  Practice of Immediacy in the Arts.  This interview explores how he uses the practice of immediacy in the arts® with digital art.  More of his art work can be viewed at: www.althouseart.com.  He can also be contacted at robert.althouse@zlmc.org.

How would you describe digital art and how did you get interested in it?
Digital art is made on a computer. In my case, I do this on a large Wacom tablet that is connected to an iMac. I use a software from Corel called Painter2018. As computer chips have become faster and faster, the digital software I use has become much more sophisticated with each passing year. It allows one to simulate almost any regular art media such as watercolor, oil, ink, pastel, crayon, pencil, acrylic, charcoal, and much more.

Once I’ve completed an image, I print it out one a good quality Epson printer using high-quality, archival Epson paper and then frame it.

I got interested in digital art about 5 years ago during a retreat I was leading in Wisconsin. I was practicing PIA on a iPad and got so excited that when I came home, I decided to go further with digital art by purchasing a Wacom Tablet, printer and software.

How long did it take for you to feel confident enough to express what you want to in digital art?
It took some time because there are almost unlimited choices in the software which is at first overwhelming. It took me about 3 years to become comfortable with the medium.

As digital art is becoming increasingly more popular, how do you use PIA in the digital art medium?
I paint in many different ways. I was trained as a visual artist painting in oils many years ago, so I often work in a similar way with my digital works. There are times, especially when I’m in retreat, when I use PIA and I find the process very liberating. It allows me to explore new mediums and brushes in my software and to let go of attachment to any outcome. This is a very powerful way to create for which I’m very grateful. Though I don’t use it directly much of the time, it still informs much of what I do in many unexpected ways.

What encouraging words do you have for others who would be interested in PIA and digital art?
I would say that sometimes the biggest fear people have about art is that they won’t be good enough or that they will make a mistake. If you are able, it’s best to put your judging, critical mind to one side and not second guess or interpret what you are doing, as you are doing it. Practice not-knowing and approach PIA as an exploration and a moment to discover something new and unexpected.

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