You Can’t Teach An Old Dog…

April 19, 2006


…sit, boy, sit… good dog…

I wrote a song once and the only lyric in it was… “gonna throw this computer… out the window… if it ever does this again…” That pretty much sums up my working relationship with a computer. I have noticed, however, that several artists are now “painting” their artwork via the computer. It looks so very “painterly” when they are done, just like it had been executed with traditional media. I decided to make friends with my computer and teach myself how to do this, too.

My little computer project has, (of course), turned into a constant source of pain and frustration for me over the past month or so. I suppose if I had some sort of Wacom Tablet dealie to work with instead of a stupid mouse it might be easier, but one way or another, I just cant seem to get the hang of it.

Recently, (after yet another disastrous attempt at computer painting), I shut down my computer, picked up my paint, brush and water, and painted this dog. I actually had fun doing it. I enjoy the organic nature of painting. Very tactile, therapeutic in its own way, and then it hit me… I was trying to reproduce with the computer what I do right now with the brush, paint and water. What was I trying to do that for?

What advantage would there be if I were able to accomplish this great feat of computing? I have less control on the computer than I do with a brush in my hand, have no original piece of artwork when I am done, and it takes me twice as long since my cantankerous computer is fighting me every step of the way.

They say you cant teach an old dog new tricks, and I’m beginning to believe that just may be the case for me.

The Comments


I feel the same way Dennis…Why hang a poster on someones fence when i am used to a spray can.. Love the dog by the way… He looks like mine when I have the shock collar remote..

Doug Jones

A computer is good when you want to scribble something out and then slap some color on it real quick without dragging out the water, brushes, and paints, and cleaning everything up afterwords… like that BAD golfer on my page right now… it’s really good for us lazy people. I’d say stick to painting… trying to paint with digits ain’t worth the aggravation, and leaves your sketchbook empty

Thomas M.

What program are you “attempting” the artwork with? Just curious … Since I have no space for the traditional medium, all I have is the computer with Painter, Photoshop, and Illustrator. All three of which I’m still trying to become more comfortable with.

Don Jones

I suspect this little doggie found the Expresso Roast coffee grinds. You don’t need no stinkin’ computer Denny Dawg. It would be like a car mechanic with clean hands.


Dennis, I feel the same way. I have a Wacom tablet, and I still do not get the same results. I have all the software also, Photoshop, Painter ya da ya da.. They are all merely tools. Some work better than others. For most of my “paying work” I still will pull out the trusty pencil, create a sketch, scan it in, ad some quick color variations and presto. I guess it is all in how you use the tools. I am still amazed at how guys like Ryan Church (Star Wars Concept Artist) can create his art with such mood and feeling, just using the computer and a tablet. I do know that he is classically trained, but found a medium that he can use to create and make money at. Some of us still need to rely on the old tools that feel comfortable. Nothing wrong with that! I would much rather see your work with the good Ol’ manual brush. It is hard to create the spontaneous backgrounds like you do any other way. Put the mouse down and grab the brush!!! Throw the computer out of the window! No wait, then you could not post to your site…strike that!

McNair Wilson

(To be said in thick Mexican accent) “Step away from the computer, Dennis.” If you spent a few hours everyday trying to learn and get better at computer art you might, in a few YEARS, attain solid mediocrity. And think of all the drawings, paintings and great sketches you will never have created whilst trying to learn a new trick. But it’s only a trick if you can do it. Your art is NOT A TRICK! Paint on, my friend.

Dennis Jones

…hey, does anybody out there know how many posts are in my front porch railing? …you dont?… well, I’ll tell you… 98… how do I know?… I’ve been painting them for two days now… they are square… which means each post has four sides that each have to be dealt with… 98 times four is… well… half a brazilian different surfaces to deal with if my math is correct… and this is not counting the 5 columns and assorted other goodies that go along with the front porch… not good… not good at all…

Dennis Jones

Thomas… I am using Photoshop…

Dennis Jones

…one of my buddies took pity on me and brought over a Wacom tablet for me to play with for a week or two… it makes a huge difference… but I still end up wishing I had spent my time painting… I will post some of these computer failures if anyone is interested in seeing them…

Doug Jones

McNair… “solid mediocrity” is what I strive for! :o) Dennis… If you used the computer, you could just click on each rail with the paint bucket and it would be done!

Don Jones

It must be the Spring Clean mandate from Brother Jones Corporate that’s is taking place. Den, you’re paintin’ posts and I’m etching concrete. Doug, let’s get busy on the 2006 Great Outdoors Brother Jones Plen-aire Spruce-up.

Dennis Jones

…Don …a good idea springs from Doug and McNair’s comments…

…why dont you make a flash banner that reads, “Brother Jones… striving for solid mediocrity”…

Doug Jones


Don Jones

I’m all over it!!

Dennis Jones

…or CONTINUALLY striving for solid mediocrity…

Dennis Jones

…that makes us sound much more diligent…

Don Jones

I’ve got it loaded up… nothing great… just mediocre. Perfect.


The trick is to NOT reproduce your analog art style when going digital as you noted. Just as you work differently if you were working in pastels vs. oils, the same applies to digital. I think the more successful artists who have gone digital have used the medium to express themselves differently, in a way their analog art didn’t allow them to. I look at it as another tool to express my creativity To do it right you do need a Wacom tablet. Painter – the program is a nice tool to have too. But you have painter – the skills that is, which is the best tool to have. I would encourage you not to give up. Just keep practicing and don’t force it. Try and make the learning experience as fun as possible and see what develops.

Doug Jones

I feel the FORCE is strong in this Roballoo padawan…

Dennis Jones

YOUNG DEN SKYWALKER; All right, I’ll give it a try.

JEDI MASTER YODA-BALLOO; No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.


Hi Dennis, I’m a HUGE fan! I do digital illustration using a wacom tablet and mostly painter. It just takes some time getting used to, but once you’re up and running you won’t look back! It’s so much faster than the traditional way, especially if you’re on a few tight deadlines! And….there’s an UNDO button… 🙂 Love your work!


Dennis, I think I can come here for my therapy because it’s nice to know that not all of the pro’s are on the computer yet. I’m on it but it has cost me my hand painting details…now I’m working my way back uphill with the world’s tiniest wacom and a lot of frustration. I’ll feel better once I can turn out something satisfactory. GB

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