Howlin' Wolf

'Cavis Muris Part-2' by Laurie Spiegel

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I was born in Puerto Rico in 1953 and have been living in Canada since 1971. As often happens in life, living in Canada was not a planned event or one born out of need. In other words, I was not seeking to emigrate nor was I searching for a better life in the home of the free. I was already free.

Coming to Canada on a working summer vacation with my brother-in-law was all I had in mind. The plan was to return home at summer's end, but plans change. It did not take me long to decide that I wanted to remain in Canada. During those early years, I attended Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, studying Photographic Arts.

I never did practice Photographic Arts for a living or as a profession. However, that education served to introduce me to artistic aesthetic and the creative process as well as a visual language of expression which I would come to use when many years later, from 1998, when I discovered the digital medium.

Apart from the years spent learning black and white still photography, I am essentially self-taught in the arts and completely self-taught in digital image making. Perhaps because of this, I choose not to think of myself as an artist but as an image-maker in an emerging new art form, the digital medium.

Having decided to use the digital environment for image making, and because I did not have to make a living doing it, I was free to learn at my own pace, explore and choose my subject matter. As a subject matter I would eventually settle on Erotica not as something to take as an occasional direction but as something to focus on and depict in many forms.

Erotica, always a contentious subject, for the foreseeable future will continue to be contentious. The history of erotic imagery shows that its use, availability and acceptance spikes drastically up and down. At one moment in time it is reasonably accepted and readily available. At another time, the works are being burned, banned and artists producing the images are jailed, banished or murdered.

To say the least, our collective attitude towards erotica is schizophrenic in nature. Erotic images are presented to us daily. We see them through advertisements, movies, television, and the music and fashion industries. As long as these images don't cross a "certain border" and are used for the purposes of selling a product we seem to be, for the most part, accepting of them.

As soon as erotic imagery is created and used for the purposes of sexual arousal it crosses that "certain border". The level of acceptance changes and we begin to take measures to control its viewing. That "certain border" of acceptability is difficult to define. It is an always shifting border, dependant on the values of the viewer, the culture, the country and the times.

Erotica as a subject matter is very flexible. Not only can it be used for one of its most basic of purposes, arousal, but it can also be used to express beauty. It can be a window through which many human emotions and conditions such as desire, passion, joy, pathos, fulfillment and disappointment can be expressed. Additionally it can be used to raise questions, make comments and observations, criticize or challenge our values and express universal concepts such as virtue and sin. Above all, it can be used as a celebratory expression of one of humanity's greatest gifts.

While erotica may be the subject of my images, the digital medium is the tool I use for expression. I use the medium perhaps in one of its less used roles today, as an alternate to natural media. Although once trained as a photographer and using a medium so closely related to photography, I seek the absence of the photographic footprint and of realistic detail.

I like to provide images with enough detail to ensure that the viewer has a notion of what they are viewing but at the same time leave accurate depiction of reality behind. Because of my affinity to black and white (not to mention a mild colour blindness), I prefer to work with the tonal values of the gray scale to which, in the later stages of the image-making process, I add colour through the use of digital tinting and watercolours.

It has never been essential for me, in searching for a "voice", to settle on an exclusive visual style. I prefer to play and explore, often using brushes that will push and pull the paint pixels apart in order to shape and construct the image. While at other times I may choose digital charcoal or work with high contrast black on white line drawings to which, using Corel Painter, I apply coloured liquid inks.

I enjoy the use of bold strokes, applying texture to images and sometimes giving them a sense of movement and rhythm without animation. The images I create are developed with printing in mind rather than for the web. In printing these images I use a variety of specialty papers with archival inks.

Having been self-taught for the most part, I can't count teachers as sources of influence in my work. I can point to the following sources of inspiration: other artists, music (Blues in particular), Nature, my wife's flower gardens and my life experiences good and bad.

For individuals like me who generally work intuitively, the digital medium is a perfect fit. Not only can I explore visual expression freely but I can also revert, if I don't like the direction I am headed in, to any previous state in the image-making process and start again. Using available digital image creation/manipulation programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, the store never closes and I never run out of paint, watercolours, paper, brushes, etc. unless the power goes out.

Rarely does a day go by that I don't feel excited at the prospect of using the medium to begin working on an image or to complete one. Exploring the digital medium expressively will always remain for me an ongoing and playful process of discovery.

Presently I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with my wife and two children.

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Alma-en-Penumbra


Amazing Grace


As Time Goes By


Baila


Beliefs


Black Stocking


De-Maravilla


El-Otono-de-Un-Amor


Embracable You


En-La-Casa-de-La-Melancolia


En-Silencio


Give Us One Good Reason Why


Grace


La Otra Mona Lisa


Love's Embrace


Night Flower of Desire


Nude Detail


Offered to the Gods


Pensando


Root of Desire


Torso


Union Divina


Whispers of Desire


Woman in Red Heels


Woman with Heart Pendant
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Commentary:
The Digital Medium ~ Is it Art?

There are many variants within the digital medium including video, animation, photography, painting, and drawing that encompass three and two-dimensional image making. Within those variants the medium is being applied, for artistic or commercial purposes, in certain characteristic ways such as; natural media emulation, photographic manipulation/composites and as collages that integrate digital, graphic arts and conventional artistic techniques.

One thing seems very clear; the medium, just as its close relative photography once did, is searching for recognition and acceptance within the established arts.

Is it art? Is it not? What is it? These are some of the common questions and preoccupations that are floating about. Although answers to these questions may help clarify the digital medium's position in regards to established art forms, it will certainly not make all digital works into art.

Images produced through the digital medium will gain recognition as art much faster than photographic ones ever did. This will not happen because people have answered the almighty question, "Is it Art?" It will happen because individuals are using the digital medium as a tool for personal expression.

A medium does not determine what is art or is not art. Just like any other accepted art form presently being used to express visions, concepts and ideas, the digital medium will produce aesthetic experiences whose meaningful contribution towards the enrichment of our world community will not be denied.

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Howlin' Wolf
3728 Dundonald Ave, Burnaby
British Columbia, V5G-3N6
Canada