Palm Springs Museum of Art to Feature Digital Artist Petra Cortright


Artists today continue to push the boundaries of their creativity, often producing work using irregular mediums and materials. For Los Angeles artist Petra Cortright, digital technology offers many possibilities when creating abstract landscapes.

Cortright works on a Wacom tablet in Photoshop. Each element of his paintings is created by his own hand and each brushstroke is a separate layer, but the process continues when it’s time to print on aluminum, linen and paper at a commercial print shop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. This is when things get complicated and she has to work with a master printer to control transparency and opacity.

“It’s time-consuming, it’s expensive, and it’s a lot of research,” Cortright said. “The aluminum is nice because the colors in the piece change in natural light. The idea of ​​printing on raw Belgian linen, it’s a traditional paint surface, and I wanted to stay in the conversation of traditional paint Linen is warm, while aluminum is cold, and I want to experiment with different substrates and moods that these produce.”

Paintings presented in the exhibition "Petra Cortright: Cinnamon Sapphire Viper Fairy" at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, CA from September 29, 2022 to March 26, 2023.

Many such pieces in dimensional print and ink will be on display from September 29 to March 26 at the Palm Springs Art Museum for its upcoming solo exhibition “Petra Cortright: sapphire cinnamon viper fairy.”

Cortright said it was important for the digital aesthetic of her works to be represented in the paintings, and she celebrates the process. Her landscape painting “Cinnamon Sapphire Viper Fairy” is based on a landscape by Swiss and French painter Félix Vallotton.

“Anything on the Internet in JPEG format, I consider that source,” Cortright said. “There are a lot of collages out there, but I love using other people’s work or tools, like Photoshop brush plugins. I also create all my own brushes in Photoshop.”

“The Swiss army knife of software”

Software company Adobe Inc. launched Photoshop in 1990, providing photographers and graphic designers with a range of digital tools for photo editing and digital image creation. Its novelty has also raised many ethical and political questions related to the manipulation of photos or the modification of content.

But it also played a pivotal role in the art world by providing artists and photographers with new ways to create work. Cortright describes it as the “Swiss army knife of software”.

“You can use it for anything. I’d say there’s more than one way to do something in Photoshop and get the same results, but I don’t think there’s a lot of people who work like me.”

Paintings presented in the exhibition "Petra Cortright: Cinnamon Sapphire Viper Fairy" at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, CA from September 29, 2022 to March 26, 2023.

Cortright began learning software in 2002 while attending high school in Santa Barbara, and much of her knowledge came from her older brother who works in graphic design, as well as some formal classes and communication on Adobe forums where users can share tips and tricks. She dropped out of two art schools and is “bored” of traditional painting.

“Both of my parents are artists and are traditionally trained, and my husband is an oil painter,” Cortright said. “I don’t have the patience for that. If I made a mistake, I have to fix it with a flick of my wrist. If I do something right, I have to reproduce it or save it. I have the brain of a painter. I didn’t have the patience for the process, but I still wanted to do paintings and I ended up here.”

Like the textures and brushstrokes of a traditional painting, there are noticeable digital details in Cortright’s work – an aesthetic she wants people to notice to avoid being confused with a reproduction of other works. of art.

“I love playing with textures,” Cortright said. “I pay attention to the different resolutions of images I work with. In my opinion, to be successful with a physically produced digital painting, you need a lower resolution, a digital texture and a physical texture. Everything is not super high definition.”

When asked how long it takes to complete a painting, Cortright replied that it could take anywhere from a few hours to a few years. She draws from a library of her own digital paintings and brushstrokes with many old files to revisit, modify and develop.

“People want to hear an artist working hard and taking a long time to do every little thing, it’s not that I don’t do that, but it’s just different,” Cortright said. “The harder you work, the more you run the risk of things getting overworked or convoluted. But I would say I work faster than a traditional painter.”

Paintings presented in the exhibition "Petra Cortright: Cinnamon Sapphire Viper Fairy" at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, CA from September 29, 2022 to March 26, 2023.

Even though digital art is a new artistic genre, it is expected to develop over time. In the 1980s, pop artist David Hockey created digital paintings with the Quantel Paintbox graphics system. He also works with a Wacom tablet in Photoshop. Yet there are many debates, criticisms and questions as to whether it is an authentic art form.

Cortright is unaffected by what others think of her digital paintings.

“You don’t know exactly how (art) is going to affect you,” Cortright said. “I’m always afraid to tell people what to do with their job, because I like that they have no commitments or responsibilities. If they can find fun in it, that’s great.”

If you are going to

What: “Petra Cortright: Cinnamon Sapphire Viper Fairy”

When: Sept. 29 to March 26

Where: Palm Springs Museum of Art, 101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs

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