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Gallery - Technique

TOM CROSS' TECHNIQUE:
Each image came from a traditional sketch that was scanned in or directly from a reference video grab and then was "sketched" from there in Photoshop. Once all the various individual components start to take shape and become better refined, I then mush them all together via layers (this is of course where the digital medium really shines; I can almost move, resize, re-configure and experiment almost as fast and furious as the ideas and possibilities pop into my head). I have always maintained to digital nay sayers over the years that the computer is actually more liberating than traditional approaches. You can experiment, make mistakes, let the "happy accidents" and discoveries occur. The paint is never dry. No mistake is forever!

A lot of traditional painting and drawing skills are invoked at this stage by use of the Wacom tablet and stylus. Much time and care is spent in pushing pixels as one would paint traditionally at this stage to build up the color, detail and overall finished look of the work. Then filter fun happens if called for. I really like Xaos tools and Andromeda filters, although I use many others including a host of actions I have archived over the years.

The flattened file is then proofed on an Epson inkjet printer. The image is sent with hard proofs to the giclée printer and proofs come off from there. Again, an irony of all the high tech tools in that the traditional skills and working collaboration of the artist and the printer is far more interactive than if a litho were being done. The digital to giclée process is much more akin to the old world printmaking process of centuries ago. So, it is the best of both worlds! The artist gets the best possible reproduction of his or her work, the collector an exquisite print.

I often then have the file/image printed out larger to a special rag paper with a tooth to it or to archival canvas. On this I produce my "original". In that painting digitally (or "with electric light" as I refer to it) is a part of my creative process, this is sometimes an area of confusion. To explain briefly:

First, I use both traditional and digital techniques to create the master image, sometimes going from easel to computer and back again many times before finally realizing a final digital file image. Nearly all of my digital work employs the use of a Wacom cordless stylus and pad, thus utilizing the same eye to hand skills one might if just using an ordinary paint brush or pencil. This final digital image is then used for two purposes:

a) to create digital-direct giclée prints (entirely bypassing the photography/transparency/scanning procedure. This results in the printing execution of a very wide color palette, or gamma for my giclées).

b) to create one, very large giclée print, which is worked on by hand extensively with acrylics, often using acrylics, pastels, colored pencils and whatever may be at hand to heighten the magical qualities of my work. Many of these paints are iridescent, opalescent or metallic in nature, which results in a one-of-a-kind original that cannot be reproduced because of the nature of these paints making it so hard to photograph or scan. Thus the result is a very unique, not reproducible original work. A bit backwards I guess in that the original often comes last!