Digital sketching versus traditional classical tools


digital sketch of man in a waiting room


Few years ago, the idea of digital sketching  would be preposterous for me .Trained as I was in the classical tradition, we were thought that there is nothing that can compare to the pure work of art based on the traditional tools.
In many respects it is still true. There is nothing like a good quality watercolours dissolving on a high grade water paper  applied with high quality watercolour brushes.
In fact it is one of the first lessons I teach in my classes. Use, high quality materials if you really want to feel the difference in the touch and feel when applying them in your work. There is a  healthy kind of fetishism in choosing the artists materials and it is no different when a musician prefers a Stradivarius  as opposed to a mediocre or low quality instrument.
And yet, as with many other ideas related to the use of the new paradigms of the new media and with a steady advancement of the technology allowing fuller and richer imitation of the real life sketching it has become increasingly  difficult to resist the many advantages.
First. There is the  ease of use.
Working with a digital pen with an iPad application such as ArtStudio or Brushes for example it is about all you need and if you feel like using your finger, you can skip the digital pen. iPad is about the size of an average sketchbook and with the new iPad Air it is about the same weight so carrying around is not more difficult then a regular sketchpad.

The Versatility.

artstudio dashboard


The painting and sketching digital apps, offering a great variety of built in digital tools. A huge variety of pens, pencils, brushes and even air brushes effects. All sorts of textures imitating hard the real life textures of the artists support materials.
When I carry around my real life sketching tools, I need a big bag to fit everything in.
Pencils, brushes, crayons, pastels, water colours, sketching pad , a small rag, a jar for water, a little bottle of water, etc. All this and more I need to fit into my bag as opposed to having just an iPad .
I am sorry if I am starting to sound like a salesperson of Apple but it is simply a matter of personal preference and of course any other digital tool that works for you is equally valid and good.
I am not suggesting of course in any way that all this endless assortment of digital art material is equal yet to the real life materials in touch and quality but I am sure it is just a question of time that the difference will not be noticeable at all and I am sure in the not too distant future there will be some added value to the digital feel of a material that will not be based on imitation the real life materials but rather add a unique feel of digital sense which is noticeable even today.
If you really want to loose  the sense of estrangement, and take advantage of the the many benefits of digital sketching, you must loose the habit of comparing it to the real life materials.


RGB color slider

Another huge benefit of digital sketching is the different application of colours.

An endless range of colours that are based on the principles of real optics  mixing as opposed to additive mixing of the artists paint materials. This in itself can be a great value in learning the difference between the dimensions of Tonal Value, the Hue and the Saturation.
It means that with digital sketching there is an added benefit in that it can teach you much about the difference of colours deriving from breaking up of the pure white light and colours deriving from pigments.
Trying to teach these principles of the difference between colours as light and colours as pigments prior to the appearance of the new digital technologies, was a real challenge.


Another big advantage in working digitally is the ability to construct an image in layers.
Working with semitransparent layers  we can create a very rich textures and blend colours in a unique way which is more appropriate to colours as light thinking. Of course, the more advanced the program we are working with, the richer and more complex art we can create. Programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel’s Painter using devices such as Wacom’s CintiQ can create an image that in many ways far surpassing the realism of the non digital painting.
Of course,  if we add to this the use of the photograph as resource that can be cut and pasted in layers we can get an image that is totally unique and cannot be replicated in a non digital way.
Realism is an elusive word. In the realm of Visual Arts it came to mean a photographic image, which has distorted completely the more subtle and more spiritual qualities of an image with the disastrous consequence of associating linear perspective as the only ” real” perspective.
At this point I would like to add that it is quite certain we are approaching a time when the difference between  the classical, supposedly real art and the virtual will disappear, opening much more options for creative work.

Here is a pen and ink sketch from today with people in a cafe working on their digital devices.

Checking the mail
Checking the mail

Alone but together, each with their choice of size of a screen, sending and receiving messages, working on their projects, sharing information across vast distances, creating together a web of interrelations with endless possibilities for creative thinking, problem solving and entertainment.
In my opinion it is easy to see that there is still quite a big difference between the classical tools and the digital and there are still quite a big gap between the two.


I could go on and talk endlessly about the many advantages of the digital media as a very useful addition to the artists arsenal of tools enhancing his ability to express his creativity but this is not the purpose of this post. At this time I am rather interested in enhancing the idea that there are many advantages for the classical artists to lose their inhibitions about the digital media and free their preconception about what is good art and what is the difference between virtual and non virtual reality.




Human fragility

Sketching as I do in cafes around the World I mostly observe people in their lightly exited, animated state, expressing themselves verbally, smiling, typing on their laptops and talking to friends on smartphones. There is usually  small movements involved but not too much as to disrupt the process of sketching. This of course allows me to catch their shape before they go about their business and disappear from my view frame .

Unfortunately life is not all about cafes and free form visual association trough sketching.

There is also pain and discomfort as in case of this man above waiting for a checkup in cardiovascular department of Semmelweis University Hospital. 

I am spending some time here trying to figure out what is the nature of a weakness that follows me since few days .

Meanwhile I am finding some  nice and willing models like Ildiko  who was kind enough to pose for me.

After Ildiko I got quite a few portrait requests from the stuff so now the question is how long am I staying to be able to comply with all the demand .

Sketching as an anchoring in space time

After three months in Budapest I am starting to feel a bit more settled specially after receiving my residency permit, valid for one year.

Coming to Budapest after spending few months in Europe, is closing a circle in many respects.

One circle is related to the fact of my birth in the region of the Carpathian basin. It was interesting to find out in this  article on the origins of the Hungarian nation that which is actually regarded as the birthplace of the Hungarian nation.

The other circle which is more recent is the one that has started fifteen years ago when I lived here for a year and a half.

It is then when the whole idea of the cafe project has started.

One day, absorbed in sketching in one of the many lovely cafes of Budapest, I have suddenly experienced a sense of dislocation, forgetting for a moment where I am. This kind of disorientation is actually quite common in almost any intensely creative work and I think I am not alone in experience this kind of rapture, sometimes accompanied with  a sense of awe and inspiration. This moment was followed by a sudden rush of realisation that the act of observing and sketching, serves as an anchor point in space and time, providing me with a new sense of orientation and feeling of home.

I have red somewhere that something similar is happening when a Bedouin is setting up his tent in the vast desert with a fire serving as a reference point, giving him a sense of temporary home.

The atmosphere of many cafes around the world is quite similar and the actual experience of sketching painting, observing the movements of people and flowing with the rhythm of the lines is almost the same everywhere, regardless of the actual location of the cafe and is therefore easy to lose orientation. Thus, the act of sketching in the cafe has been transformed for me into much more then making art. It has suddenly become an act of stitching together our disjointed fragmented reality where forms of one place can be cut and pasted into completely another context creating new meanings where old ones have been lost.

Thank you note

This is my first post with the brand new design of my site.

About a year ago, I have decided to stop with my endless amateur attempts to tweak my design and embarked on a journey to find a professional help that would balance out the functionality of my site with usability and design.

After an extensive search I have found Christine Thatcher and her team from What you see here is the combined work of her wonderful team of experts, each with her own field of expertise.

From the very start there was a general feeling of trust that was achieved through professional handling of information that flowed effortlessly and fluently, leaving an impression of being in good hands eliminating guesswork and at the same time allowing enough room for individual input in matters of design and functioning of the site.

Thank you Christine, Michelle, Jessica and Brian. You were a great help.


Saving Face

I love the deep wisdom and layered meaning in small sayings and expressions.

Saving face means to preserve a person’s dignity and allow them to retain their inner sense of respect and character in spite of a challenge or failure. It’s an expression of respect for one’s inner being rather than an emphasis on one’s outward ability, performance or value to the group.

In portraiture this saying has another layer of meaning. It refers to creating an image where the likeness of the face is not a photographic replica, but rather an expression of inner characteristics. Character traits like strength and dignity are conveyed in the features and expressions of the face itself.

Consider this portrait. Eran’s face is full of subtlety and his features express his inner character and emotional state. It is quite challenging to find just the right kind of balance – yet this is essential for capturing his inner qualities and saving his face.

Energy Flow Chart

Behind every form there is an intricate flow of energy lines that define it. These lines delineate the borders of the object itself and at the same time are part of an intricate web of interaction between other forms.

A man seated in a café is interacts with the newspaper in his hands and the table in front of him. The energy around him is visually full of vibrating dots, lines and planes – constructing three dimensional forms in a dynamic state of equilibrium and held in place by the meaning and purpose of the form itself.

Painting is the gentle interaction between the intrinsic meaning of the form and the discerning observation and interpretation of the artist’s eye. When these two coincide we have a great piece of art.