When we first opened this venue, not many artists wanted to collaborate in our project, but some of them trusted us. This is the case of the talented digital artist Ansgard Thomson. Today more than a year ago after we first opened our virtual doors we are very proud to present once again Ansgard Thomson to all our digital community. She is an incredible woman that besides of sensitivity and talent has a great sense of humor. Here are some of her thoughts, enjoy it!
Ansgard: I was born in Silesia, while it was still part of Germany.
DAM: Where do you live now?
Ansgard: I live on a ranch in Alberta Canada
DAM: Were you encouraged to become an artist early in life?
Ansgard: Yes, I was encouraged to learn about art at home, and in high school; I was encouraged to surround myself with art and create art myself. But I was discouraged from making my living from art by entering into further academic art education after high school..
DAM: Who were your main influences in becoming an artist?
Ansgard: I was influenced most by my admiration for any person who was trying to become an artist, including my father, uncle, brothers and sisters and friends.
DAM: How was your development as an artist influenced by the course of world events in your youth?
Ansgard: Because of my living in Germany during the Second World War where the Third Reich had taken over the art scene, I had no field of interest in which to pursue art other than taking photographs, mainly of nature and people. I had a dream of becoming a filmmaker, at a later date. My uncle was arrested as an outspoken artist and only survived when the Russians occupied the prison he was in.
DAM: Were you involved in the European art scene in the post-World War II era?
Ansgard: I was making a living as a private pediatric nurse. My friends were all artists. My spare time was spent learning more about art. As I was hired by a French teacher in Germany to take care of her baby, she was able to take me to Paris with a special permit in 1948. In Paris I found permanent employment in a private maternity ward and lived there until 1958. I was soon again involved in the art circles and was able to educate myself with so much to see. I could not get enough of it, but limited myself to the contemplation of the work of others. I was somehow intimidated by some of the attitudes towards woman artists and the general critical competition amongst the artists, who were not always very nice to each other. The artists whose works I liked the most were Picasso and Mattise, along with many others.
DAM: When did you emigrate to Canada?
Ansgard: In 1959 I took up permanent residence in Canada
DAM: Did your own career as an artist begin in earnest before or after your move to Canada?
Ansgard: I knew after my stay in Paris, that in order to become respected as an artist I would have to get further education in a more formal setting and work on my techniques and practice as much as possible.
DAM: How did you learn to be an artist?
Ansgard: I learned to be an artist by taking Education Courses given by approved artists of the University of Alberta Extension Department and regular art classes in the community I live in. Many workshops given by well known Alberta artists and daily practice on my own made me aware how to prepare and offer my works for display .
DAM: When did you first begin to create digital art?
Ansgard: In 1993 I bought my first computer with the intention of finding out what it could do.
DAM: Was this a reflection of dissatisfaction with traditional media or simply a desire to explore a new artistic medium?
Ansgard: By nature I am an explorer of media and always used different mediums mainly due to the fact I was involved in many workshops over a long period of time. I also wanted to explore abstract compositions with emphasis on color. I saw a way of doing art as long as I live despite any infirmities as an older person.
DAM: What appeals to you most about digital art?
Ansgard: The millions of colors I can choose from and the effects I can achieve by either drawing, painting or using filters and even sometimes scripts over my own creations. It is never boring and the learning process is self-directed at all times.
DAM: Is the computer now your exclusive artistic tool?
DAM: Your website features digital art in the style of traditional painting. What prompted you to create this series of works?
Ansgard: I am still a member of the community art clubs association and have entered my works for the juried shows every year, and the critical voices claim traditional paintings cannot be done with a computer. I like to say it is maybe a little more difficult to learn to use all the different brushes in the different programs to achieve a good natural painting that people in my own community can relate to. But with practice, dexterity might even increase with the use of so many different tools. It is great fun to learn to use as an example the Flemish brush on an under painting. One still has to pick the color and size of brush to achieve the famous Flemish brush stroke.
DAM: Your website also features two examples of Animation Art. What inspires you about this form of digital art?
Ansgard: I like to enhance my website with my personal little animation works to share some joyful moments with my visitors. I used to animate many of my works I produced in Fractint, the program I used first, and I keep my favorites on my website for the time being. As I consider my website a "working place" as well as a showplace, things I am working on might show up just for fun to entertain my visitors and friends.
DAM: Does your work integrate digital photography into the creation of digital works?
Ansgard: I try to keep digital photography as a separate digital art form with is own possibilities of enhancement and manipulation. I use filters or subjects for paintings and for portraits. I do not own a scanner, and the sharpness of digital photos is not as good as from a 35mm Camera, and for that reason digital photos from my selections of photos taken are great candidates for digital manipulation. I have sold some prints from my portrait collections.
DAM: What is your biggest source of inspiration for your work?
Ansgard: The older I get, the more I get inspiration from what I can do with the computer day in and day out that pleases me. As a colorist, there is no end to where it will lead me to at any given time.
DAM: How do you feel when you are creating a work of digital art?
Ansgard: Complete freedom from preconceived notions of what I can do with the computer, whereas any other art form would impose material limitations on my work. I painted one acrylic painting on canvas from a digital painting just to appreciate what another artist had done, before archival prints were available.
DAM: What hardware and software do you employ to create your digital art?
Ansgard: I have a Pentium 3, PS, a 17inch screen Monitor, and a Wacom tablet. My software is mainly: Photoshop 6.1 ,Painter 5, PSP, Fractint and several other programs I found interesting to explore for two dimensional works.
DAM: According to your website, you make your own prints of your works. What printing hardware and process do you utilize to create your works?
Ansgard: When I won my first award in Toronto for my high resolution prints made with my simple Canon printer and was lectured by others to get my prints done by commercial digital printers producing glicee prints at high cost to me, I decided to study on the Internet what was taking place with the new technology. I found the paper I liked and the Epson 2000P printer to produce my work in my own studio as archival prints in small limited editions of five or on demand for some buyers.
DAM: Who are your favorite digital artists?
Ansgard: I have a long list of artists about whom I like the way they have explored the possibilities to do serious personal fine art with the computer and have links to their sites on my website but find it rather difficult to identify my work with any other digital artist.
DAM: What kind of support or feedback have you gotten from other digital artists since you started promoting your own art?
Ansgard: Lastplace.com, DigitalArtMuseum.com, and The Art League have helped me to be better known outside Canada, as well as many more places where I am listed. I do get invitations daily to enter my art in virtual shows. I have made many friends on the Internet and this in itself is important to me to share pictures and opinions and some criticisms. As there are very few digital artists in Canada, we at least talk about our adventures, not all very positive ones but interesting enough as times are changing. Receiving some awards for works that were my own favorites has encouraged me to carry on.
DAM: Have you ever been rejected for being a digital artist?
Ansgard: Yes, but more out of misunderstandings of my motives for exploring something that has not made any progress in the marketplace. Most rejections have come from print artists, who feel threatened by the new technology allowing me to produce archival prints in my own studio on fine art papers. Only after I presented some works to the University of Alberta Extension for judging for a scholarship that I won were my works included in the yearly show by the art organization I have belonged to for the last twenty years.
DAM: Do you receive any economical support to develop your works from an individual or an institution?
Ansgard: I have sold some digital prints privately and found a gallery in Alberta taking works on consignment. The scholarship from the university of $400.00 helped me to cover some of my high cost of importing papers from the USA.
DAM: Where can we buy your artwork?
Ansgard: My artwork can be ordered directly from me or from my representatives listed on my website. I do not have a commercial site on the Internet but my prints can be ordered by email directly from me. I will only produce 5 prints of each image on 2 sizes of paper--8.5"x11" or 13"X19", at prices from $250 to $500.00 or less in protected sleeves. I negotiate discounts on portfolios of series of up 20 prints selected in archival binders also limited in numbers to 5 of each image.
DAM: Is there anything you would like to add?
Ansgard: I have donated a portfolio of 17 prints of my virtual Millennium show at lastplace.com to the Fort Assiniboine Museum. Digital Art in such an old historic place might be more noticed than in museums in bigger cities. I am very grateful to the DigitalArtMuseum.com for giving me the opportunity for this interview
DAM: Thank you Ms Thomson.