INTERNET ART

City on a Hill, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 40x30

City on a Hill, oil on canvas, 40×30

INTERNET ART

IT IS A WONDERFUL THING to be able to post images of my paintings on the Internet with a personal website and on social media like Facebook and YouTube. It means that anyone with access to a computer or cellphone can see my artwork anywhere in the world, any time.

Sway, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 24x36

Sway, oil on canvas, 24×36

The paintings and essays I post provide a progress report to my friends and colleagues, near and far. My website offers unprecedented versatility; I can mix and match text, video, photography, and images of paintings to show what I have been doing in my studio and create a running commentary on what is on my mind. They appear instantly and are there for all time.

Recline, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 36x24

Recline, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 36×24

My website is a series of art exhibits, a group letter, a public journal, a platform to communicate my cultural and political beliefs. My artwork expresses my thoughts and feelings in the moment, a reaction to life as I experience it here and now: in western Massachusetts, in America, in the 21st century. My paintings hopefully capture more than just my personal journey, but also something undefinable of the zeitgeist of our times.

Tangle, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 20x30

Tangle, oil on canvas, 20×30

My posts document my development as a painter, and provide invaluable opportunities for feedback. It helps me to hear what others see in my paintings, good, bad, or indifferent. It is often surprising, almost always encouraging and inspiring. My goal is to connect with other people.

For these many reasons — creating a permanent archive, chronicling my experience, expressing my views, and getting critical feedback — the Internet provides unprecedented opportunities for people like me.

Sunrise, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 14x11

Sunrise, oil on canvas, 14×11

BUT AS A PAINTER, the Internet’s limitations are real, and frustrating.

Paintings seen on the two-dimensional screen bear little more than token resemblance to the real thing. The paintings are reduced to a fraction of their original size online, for one thing, and the images disguise differences in scale; an 11×14 painting is indistinguishable from one 30×40, despite my labels.

Artichoke, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 30x40

Artichoke, oil on canvas, 30×40

The Internet flattens the heavy textures and deliberate brushstrokes of many of my paintings. The colors are not as true and bold, and there is no smell of drying paint.

View from Cyberspace, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 40x30

View from Cyberspace, oil on canvas, 40×30

DESPITE THESE DISADVANTAGES, the Internet remains a powerful tool. But viewing a painting online provides a stark reminder of its limits. Cyberspace is an illusion; it derives its vast store of information from a three-dimensional world best appreciated through the five senses, in real time.

After Painting in My Good Orange Shirt, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 14x11

After Painting in My Good Orange Shirt, oil on canvas, 14×11

I hope you enjoy this latest batch of paintings, and that viewing artwork on the Internet stimulates your desire to see more of it in person, rather than sating it. The best way to appreciate a painting — not just mine, but any piece of artwork — is in person, whether in a gallery, a museum, or on a living room wall.

Landscape, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 40x30

Landscape, oil on canvas, 40×30

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