Discovering Digital Art

I have played around with digital art a bit, but only a bit. A very little bit, in fact. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I’ve toyed with photo manipulation, and I’ve really done nothing with actual art.

Years ago, back in those pre-learning-to-draw days, the closest I could get to art of any sort was through photo manipulation programs such as GIMP. I hate the word manipulation — it’s developed such a sleazy reputation — but that’s what it’s all about. It’s right there in the name: GIMP means GNU Interface Manipulation Program. While I might not like the name, I definitely love the price. It’s available for free, with the latest version (2.10.14)  having been released on Halloween.

This post isn’t intended to be an advertisement for GIMP. I don’t do anything with it except play with the various filters, but that’s enough to amuse me for hours and hours. To my knowledge, however, those who are experienced with digital manipulations and graphics programs can do just about anything they want to do with GIMP.  There are tutorials available — also free — and maybe one day I’ll learn more about what to do and how to do it. For now, though, I’m content to play around with GIMP.

With each issue of Artist magazine I receive, I’m seeing more and more articles about digital art, and I know many of you out there in the blogosphere are involved with digital art programs. Each time I see the work of digital artists online, I’m fascinated — and curious.

Now, don’t jump on me too harshly for my ignorance, but for a long time, I wasn’t sure that digital art was the same as real art — for lack of a better term. I knew that what I was doing — playing with patterns, swirls, and colors — wasn’t art at all, but it was a satisfying way to scratch the visually-creative itch I felt from time to time.

One of my favorite digital artworks was this look at a sunny little nook at Powell Gardens.

Sunny Nook at Powell Gardens, Digital Art from original photograph

I was rather fond of this one, too — a painted version of the old farm house where my sister and I spent our childhood summers — created with a GIMP filter.

Indian Grove
The Farmhouse at Indian Grove

Of course, what I do with digital art programs is not really art, but what other artists do is mind-boggling. Digital image manipulation and drawing programs allow creative individuals to approach the concept of art in wholly new ways. Digital art allows artists to explore ideas from different perspectives, to come up with visual presentations that make use of both traditional elements of art and a new repertoire of digital elements.

As I’ve been exploring digital art, I’ve come across some very well-known digital artists. It’s exciting to see their work and to learn about their process.

Erik Johansson


From “The Art of Education University” — “Erik Johansson is a photographer who depicts surreal imagery. With the camera as his main tool, he strives to capture the impossible. None of the finished photos he creates use computer-generated imagery; they are all a combination of photos he has taken himself. Because it takes a great deal of time to create one photo, he might only complete six to eight finished pieces a year. Take a behind the scenes look at his process here.”

Nik Ainley


From “The Art of Education University” – “UK Digital Illustrator, Nik Ainley, is used to working with big-name clients like Nike, Starbucks, and National Geographic. Ainley first became interested in digital art while studying physics. Many of his illustrations and graphics take influence from the world of science.”

You’ll find more great digital artists here: 10 Digital Artists You Should Know.

There are, of course, many digital art programs available. There’s Photoshop, of course, and for Apple users, there’s Pro-Create. I’m sure there are many other programs you can buy. But if, like me, you’re working on a more limited budget, or if, like me, you really just want to play around a little to see what these programs can do, there are many free digital art programs available to download.

Check out this list of digital drawing software:

6 Best Free Drawing Software Programs for Artists

The Best Free Graphic Design Programs

The 10 Best Free Photo Editing Programs

I may not do much more than manipulate images when I play around with digital art, but for others, programs like these are part of an exciting new pathway in art. Digital works allow us to not only create in new ways, but to see in new ways. It’s a fascinating new pathway waiting to be explored.

Note: You can see a few of my previous “digital art works” in these posts:

A Different Sort of Art

Living Out Loud

But, It Doesn’t Look Like a Bird

Digital Fun


  1. I only played at playing with digital art earlier this decade, then went off back onto photography and more recently, back to painting. Really interesting! Want to follow ur link to Erik Johansson, sounds and looks amazing! Thanks so much! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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