DAM. How long have you been an artist?
URSULA. I have been an artist all my life, but started painting professionally twenty years ago. Four years ago I started experimenting with the digital medium.
DAM. Where do you find your subject matter?
URSULA. I paint what fascinates or attracts me, whether it be an abstract idea or a thing of beauty in nature.
DAM. Every artist has a personal creative process ... explain yours.
URSULA. Sometimes I use my photos as a starting point by working with them to bring out that special "something" which intrigued me about the subject in the first place. Often I start by creating the images right in the computer. I may begin by painting simple shapes and colors which suggest the direction the image wants to go. Then I may try some special effects (filters) to explore further. I find that the computer is much more than a tool for me, more like a collaborator. There is a conversation going on between the computer and the artist and often the the directions the work is influenced as much by the computer as by me.
DAM. How often do you digital paint?
URSULA. Usually every day.
DAM. How long does it take you to do a typical digital painting?
URSULA. This is the question artists really find annoying! The tongue-in-cheek answer is: a lifetime! Seriously, sometimes only a few hours, but most of the time a few days. Sometimes I let the unfinished piece just sit there for days or weeks to finish and resolve the work at a later date. This is no different than with traditional painting.
DAM. After you create a work of art, how do you feel?
URSULA. I feel truly alive! But actually the best part of it is WHILE I am creating the art.
DAM. Is the creative process a difficult one for you?
URSULA. Sometimes it gets that way when I get "stuck" and can't resolve a problem. Although the creating is usually a joyful experience, sometimes even meditative. The biggest difficulty arises from technical problems with the computer or software!
DAM. How long have you been interested in art?
URSULA. All my life. Even as a child I would spend hours drawing animals and landscapes.
DAM. Which artists were most influential in your artistic development?
URSULA. The people who influenced me most were artists I knew personally and sought out as my teachers. There were too many to list here. First I practiced drawing for a few years. Then Chines brush painting. After that watercolor painting and then collage. The person who inspired me to move into digital art is my friend, Renata Spiazzi, a sculptor and true pioneer of the digital art form.
DAM. What strategies have you found most successful in furthering your career as a digital artist?
URSULA. I have almost given up on brick and mortar galleries and concentrate on having my work in many online galleries. With my son, Mark Bernard, a very talented programmer, I have created a professional website to be my "business card" so to speak. I find an aesthetic website essential tool for the digital artist as the web is so well suited for showing our work.
DAM. Have you studied art formally, and if so, where?
URSULA. Most of my art education was with artist teachers whom I admired. I also took art courses at the following institutions: Marist College and Duchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, NY., Coast Community College, Newport Beach, CA:
DAM. As a digital artist, what software do you use most effectively in
URSULA. Mostly I use Photoshop with native and third party plug-ins.
DAM. What kind of computer system do you use in realizing your work?
URSULA. 400 MHz , Mac G3 with 1 Gig of RAM
DAM. With all these marvelous tools on every computer desktop, is there a danger that much digital art will begin to look somewhat the same? When the magic comes from algorithms, does it carry a kind of confinement with it?
URSULA. To some extent is do see some similarities in the work. But I find that as an artist's work matures one is no longer satisfied with that type of work. Even fractals can be taken to another levels by combining them with a your own unique creative work.
DAM. What do you see as the next likely steps in the evolution of graphical computing?
URSULA. I would have to say that working with holograms would be taking us to the next dimension.
DAM. What are your views regarding the developing field of digital art?
URSULA. I think this new field reflects the way we live with technology being part of our everyday lives.
DAM. A debate rages in the art world about the impact of computers on producing art. Some thoughtful people feel that digital tools are
URSULA. I feel that technology is becoming inseparable from living in our world; and if art is shaped by the lives we lead then it follows that technology will become part of art also. I do not think that artists will stop using paint to produce art, but at the same time we should not censor others who find value in technology's new tools. Photography went through the same crisis but is now accepted as a venerable art form.
DAM. Of all your digital paintings, which is your favorite?
URSULA. Of the new work it's "Forgotten" and of the older ones is "Planetary Orbits".
DAM. Do you view art as a business or as a pure form of expression?
URSULA. First comes the need for expression and the process of creating; the business comes second. If this were reversed I would probably not be doing it any more.
DAM. Not to be nosy, but how do you go about determining a price for your work?
URSULA. I made the decision that I would like to have as many people as possible be able to afford and enjoy my art. As you can see from my website my prices are reasonable.
DAM. Do you ever create custom paintings for special clients?
URSULA. I have in the past but not during the last few years. I feel that this situation puts a stop to my creativity.
DAM. As a digital artist, what printing processes have you found most
URSULA. I make my own prints. I need to be in control of the materials I use as far as their longevity is concerned. I have spent a considerable amount of time researching inks and paper combinations to make sure I can stand behind my work. The Epson 3000 printer with Lysonic E inks and Somerset Velvet paper are my choice at the moment. As new products get developed I will always be looking for even better choices. I have also spent the last two years educating myself about color management which is an essential skill for a digital artist. By printing myself I am also assured of getting the colors right.
DAM. For those who don't know, can you explain what a print is?
URSULA. Printing is the process of producing an image by laying down inks on paper or other materials. In case of a digital print, producing the image you see on the monitor on paper.
DAM. Just exactly what role do you feel collectible prints play in the art world?
URSULA. I think that quality fine art prints have proven to be quite popular for art collectors for quite a few years now. The fact that they are more affordable is also a factor for their acceptance.
DAM. What advice would you give someone interested in appreciating and collecting art?
URSULA. Collect what you enjoy. As far as digital prints are concerned educate yourself as to the quality of the inks and papers that were used to produce the print so you will enjoy them for many years to come.
DAM. If you could display your art anywhere, where would you choose?
URSULA. How about the the Museum of Contemporary Art in New York for starters? I wish galleries were more open minded towards the digital medium.
DAM. Is digital art attaining acceptance in the art world?
URSULA. Very slowly! Some artists have tried to ease into the field by combining traditional media with digital and. I have seen some beautiful work in that combination.
DAM. Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to add and we didn't ask about?
URSULA. I would like to encourage digital artists to keep on working and not get discouraged. There are more and more places where we can show our work. I am very grateful to the Digital Art Museum to have been one of the first to open its doors to showing digital art.
DAM. Where can we buy some of your excellent art?
URSULA. On my website: http://www.ursulafreer.com
DAM. Thank you Ursula for sharing your art with us.