By Angela Romeo
Art is never static – it is forever changing. It reaches to the past and is inspired by the art that preceded it. It looks to the future fascinated by the possibilities of the ever-changing technologies. But at its core, art is creativity. Elaine Sigwald is creativity.
Elaine’s art is a melding of the old and the new. She has chosen to embrace the computer as her canvas and the results are beautiful. Her work is currently at D Gallery, in Palm Desert. In January she will be a part of a four-person show opening on January 19, 2019.
“I am an Image Maker/Storyteller and use all tools available to bring into existence, tangible manifestations of my imagination,” said Elaine. “My mediums are Digital Painting, Photography, Video and Installation.”
“The technique of creating works of art entirely within the landscape of the computer has come of age. Collectors and Museums are acknowledging and embracing this new art form. I started experimenting with digital painting in 2008 and am gratified by the enthusiastic acceptance my work is receiving today,” she continued.
But the use of computer technology cannot be full realized without the knowledge of the underlying concepts. Being able to crop in Photoshop does not make one an artist. Elaine has been honing her craft through education and experimentation. In1974, long before Photoshop released its first version in February 1990, Elaine was exploring the digital world she studied at New York University with Bill Etra, the inventor of Video Synthesizer. Etra and Steve Rutt created the Rutt/Etra Video Synthesizer. As early as 1971, Etra was working with video artists exploring the possibility of digital art.
Elaine also studied with Shirley Clarke whose workshops were funded by the Whitney Museum. Shirley Clarke began producing movies in the early 1950’s. She was a part of the Independent Filmmakers of American, an avant-garde group of artists who tested not only technology but also the censorship of film in the 1950’s -1960’s.
Elaine also studied at the Women’s Inter-Arts Center in Manhattan, with Shirley Clarke’s daughter Wendy Clarke. In 1972 Clarke pioneered video to produce interactive video installations. In 1977 she embarked on Love Tapes, a series of 800 videotapes of individuals defining love.
With these mentors it is no wonder Elaine pursued her own path of creativity in the emerging digital world.
What drives Elaine? “I work because it keeps my heart beating. It is essential to my existence while I am a corporal being on this planet and not yet returned to stardust. Artists speak about the work creating itself and I have on occasion experienced this phenomenon myself. Lucky accidents also make up some of my ‘ah ha’ moments. When I am painting the eternal question always present in my mind is, ‘What if I ???” and then I do it.’”
Not all Elaine’s inspiration comes for the modern age. Art does look to its predecessors for inspiration. For Elaine that is Surrealist painter Andre Masson. Masson often made use of the automatic drawing technique, a means of allowing the work to flow from the subconscious of an artist. In its simplest form, the hand moves randomly along the surface but is guided by the psyche of the artist.
“At times I will begin a digital painting with my eyes closed in the automatic painting style of the Masson. Masson being born in 1896 of course used traditional paints and brushes, but if he was born in the digital age he might have followed my electronic technique to achieve his surreal results. My technique, I hold my mouse in my hand, eyes closed and let my hand go wherever it wants to go.”
“A number of my recent paintings have had their origins using this method. My work Ghost In The Machinewas in the 2017 Palm Springs Art Museum Artist Council Exhibition, Some of my paintings take over 100 hours to complete and like traditional paintings have many layers of color. Ghost In The Machinehas over 50 layers and many of these layers are translucent. For me digital painting is akin to being in front of an easel except no toxic chemicals are involved.”
Continued exploration with art always makes the art world exciting. Elaine Sigwald is one of those artists to watch as her work ever evolves and ever challenges the concept of art and fine art.
For more information on Elaine Sigwald visit www.elainesigwald.com,or instagram at sigwaldelaine.