I am a painter who combines digital technology with the materials and methodology of traditional art. Though my work is abstract it has a sense of landscape. In creating this work I have merged my two main media, digital photography and oil paint, into one. The concept of combining digital imagery with the hand of the artist took root in my mind five years ago and has dominated my work since. During my 35-year career as a painting and photography instructor, I taught my painting students to produce monochromatic under-paintings of their compositions before putting on the final color and taught my photography students to hand color their photographs with oil paint. Over time the techniques I taught my students began to incorporate themselves into my own work and developed into what I call hybrid painting.   

My students have contributed to my work in another fundamental way. The source of my imagery is a large tabletop that my students used in my painting studio for over thirty years. This table acquired a complex surface, eroded by time and created by my students from years of paint splotches, spills, razor knife cuts, and textures from various glues. I have created over two hundred abstract hybrid paintings based on digital photographs of very small sections of this unique tabletop surface. I have printed these images on 4 by 4 inch watercolor paper and used these prints as an under painting. Each of these under paintings has served as the first generation of an evolving work of art. 

Each image developed through the freehand application of oils, colored pencils and oil pastels. When dried, these small hybrid paintings are scanned and reevaluated using Adobe Photoshop. Many of these hybrid images are then produced as greatly enlarged prints and reworked by hand using oils. These images, too large to scan, are then captured with a digital camera, with each image gaining energy as it grows. Many of these pieces have reached their third or forth generation of constantly evolving imagery, filling canvases of up to 40 by 60 inches. 

My work differs from other forms of mixed media painting in the way it combines digital technology and traditional art materials, which give each final work of art a unique sense of layering. Some sections of the digital under painting are left untouched, while other areas are changed by oil paint applications that run from transparent to completely opaque. My hybrid painting technique creates works that are fresh and project tremendous energy while revealing a layered history of its evolution. 

Orie Shafer
Oct 2009