Friday, October 2, 2009

Russ Mills: My dirty little digital secret

As traditional art continues to be elbowed aside by works composed digitally, my distain for computer generated art grows ever more fierce. Just as I thought all hope for traditional art was lost... I stumbled upon Russ Mills.
At first glance, I was intrigued by the flowing, spattered, complex and interesting application of paint, but upon further investigation... I mean CLOSE inspection, I noticed the image was altered in a computer program... Sirens began to go off in my brain as the realization hit me that I liked a digitally composed piece... Shame! Shame! Shame! I was TRICKED by his exquisite use of clean technical drawing! The spontaneity of his brushwork! The boldness of his subject choice! “HOW COULD I BE SUCH A FOOOLL!!!???!?” I shrieked. (okay, I really didn’t shriek.) But just as my mouse was reaching across the browser to delete all record of his site in my web history... I felt compelled to read Mills’ Bio.
Through the tears of humiliation welling in my lower lids I read about his process. It said the images were drawn then scanned in... sniffle. He also compiled random marks, scribbles and textures, then scanned them in as well. My guilt began to fade as I read on... “I keep the amount of layers to a bare minimum so the results are as spontaneous as possible. I don’t use any filters at all to keep the 'digital' nature of the image to a minimum.” Finally my scared, betrayed feelings diminished.
After being liberated of my own ignorance, I was able to browse his gallery guilt free, absorbing the elegance and spontaneity of all his work.
I’ve chosen two pieces to concisely represent his style.

The first piece, House Anthems 99, is composed of two black line figures highlighted with gold expressive brushwork, laid on deep, almost blood red ground. Both figure’s bodies are clearly human. The left figure is topped with a scull, and the right has the face of a fierce dog. Animals frequently occur in Mill’s pieces, and are usually accompanied by humans and/or have human bodies.
In contrast to his seemingly brutal and intense, masculine pieces, Mill’s portfolio has an equal emphasis on beauty and elegance. In Aeonium, the artist uses his trademark frantic brushwork to imply the woman’s figure, but describes her striking face with caution and clarity. The piece is set off with a diagonal splatter of bright red paint.
Russ Mills holds onto the traditional values of art while keeping current with ever-evolving contemporary tastes, using innovative ways to digitally compose his pieces. I recommend Mills’ work to anyone who is having a difficult time accepting technology’s influence on art. You can dip your toe in the pool, and test the digital artwork waters at Russ Mills’ web site His gallery is stunning... and I can now admit that without guilt.



  1. Is Angie feeling the power of the dark side?

  2. I enjoyed this humorous blog. I'm not a very big fan of digital art, either, but it was nice to read what the artist had to say through you. It's cool that he tries to keep the art spontaneous and not 'digital-y', it's not something I would expect to hear from a digital artist. I would imagine something more like them planning out every little detail and not being satisfied until there isn't a scrap of spontaneity left.

  3. Definitely - fun to read. Don't forget the formal bits as you get into the verbal flowers of course. Still - super fun to read - which means that you had fun doing it. It's something that feeds everyone, so I'm not raising a fuss.

    Keep the formalities in mind. This one is more personal, but not as inclusive as the one before, which keeps it from being a slam dunk. Have you read Bernadette's blog? She takes you through the experience like you do - but with room for the reader to find their own way. And where that gives the reader ownership and discovery of their opinion - you give them someone to talk to them during the ride - which makes it more like a story then a review.
    Definitely not bad or wrong - but a different skill - A marketable skill!