Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface. It also refers to the product produces. Top of the heap: A quickie painting using the simplest of art tools. Then there is the high tech photograph at centre: Fabian Oefner photograps melted bismuth, a metal he prizes for its iridescence. He melts it on a hot plate and watchs the liquid oxidize as it cools, creating a striking spectrum of color. He then scraps off a layer photographing the bismuth as it transformed. This is a labour intensive process, quess he has not heard of irridescent and interference paints.

David Pember, who shows out of Peer Gallery in Lunenburg is in a similar ball park. He apples acrylic paints on unusual surfaces, including stainless steel and EVA board.  Artists are making huge efforts to differentiate their work and draw attention  in a time when work on a plane surface is losing elan and market share. "But is it art?" Well, yeah, if one goes back to the Latin conception of it as a crafty business.

And where to today's Interior Decorators shop? You can find a reproduction of Gustave Klimt here, something to suit every taste. Now this is the ultimate in conceptual art, which is about to be taken over by robots. Hand-crafted painting is about to go extinct.

This device allows a computer to produce writing that appears to be handmade, complete with the unmistakable appearance of using a real pen to address an envelope or sign your name. And it does so with precision approaching that of a skilled artist, and — just as importantly — using an arm that never gets tired. "Suggested applications include:
formal invitations, place cards for formal dining, signing diplomas and other certificates, addressing envelopes and boxes, 'hand-written' wine lists and menus at restaurants,
decorating lunch bags, computer generated artwork, technical drawing, thank you notes and cards, writing signatures. You can read more about AxiDraw on its product page at Evil Mad Scientist." $475 US. That going to impact the commercial art business, but line drawings are not a popular sales item for fine artists. But waut a bit?
Edvuard Much would really be depressed if he were alive today. Back then Art was defined as the pursuit of painting, music and theatre. Ancienty, ars (pl. artis)  wa a Latin word derived from a Greek word indicating "something fitted, a skill regulated by rules, a profession, business, pursuit." Cicero described adjetivally as "a skill or cleverness." Some thought this was a gift of the Artes, the "Muses." Other Romans declared it was all sleight-of hand, "cunning, a trick, deceit." Academia gained control for a very long period, but they have increasingly lost their grip and funding.

Much died in 1944 and was around when people first commenced worrying about Frankenstein-like robots. In 2004 miniaturization of CPUs wasnot an accomplishment and there were few real worries about the possibility of humans losing thie livelihood to robots and "intellegent computers." Since then the reproduction of works of art has passed out of the print shop into the digital art shop.

This is not real melted metal. Rod has created thousands of Phtoshoped image to illustrate his website starting in 1995. The above dates way back when and was an 8 bit image... Thousands of these conceptual works created in co-operation with sophisticated machines, which go beyond the lever, have been created. Most were ready to print within ten minutes but none were printed and offered for sale. Probably a financial mistake? It is likely to late for that now!

Robots don't have to be absolutely humanoid to perform specific functions as we know from watching them taking over car assembly lines.  This is e-David on of the first robots to take brush in "hand" and mimic human painting styles, the first  of them in black-and-white.

Rod remembers a time when it was thought that art reproductions would never outsell Fine Art.

Don't know how that "Rembrandt" turned out. Some living artists can create on-the-spot portraits like these from live models in under an hour and the price would probably be competitive with machine output. Back in 2013 eDavid was working from photos, not unlike many human arhtists. In 2011 Patrick Tresset had created a drawing machine not unlike that which led Google to it's current robot painter known as Deep Dream.

In the calm before that storm, the techie people went competitive in a rush to create painting machines. Most admitted that their robots were visually more creative than they could be with brush in hand. When $100,000 went up for grabs in Robot Art Competition 2016, 71 teams entered. $30,000 First Prize went to a completely automatic robot and $10,000 was award Second Prize in the manually assisted category. Fourteen different technologies stood behind the entries with cash awarded the schools from which robotic creators hailed.

This would be a manually assisted example. Computer driven with the brushes loaded by hand it nudged a human intp following its lead. By contrast, EyePaint from the Imperial College London, tracked human eye movements to direct its painting arm. National Taiwan University  was designed to build up paint layers in the most common human way of creating an acylic painting. Facebook votes were tallied to find a winner.

University of Nevada, Definitely not Magic Realism. Not ready for prime time? That was 2016, light years distant in terms of technical progress.

Educational instiutions do not have deep pockets, but Google does, hence the above play on words, viz. Van Gobot. In March 2016 it was reported that "Google’s ‘Inceptionism’ Art Sells Big at San Francisco Auction."

“Inceptionism,” refers to  “neural network architecture” used to create 29 paintings put on sale in aid of charity. Sale was by auction and the priciest artwork of the night receivedan $8,000 winning bid, not at all bad for a beginning painter. "It’s not just computers getting in on the art scene: painting robots—and art critics—are also becoming a thing, with their own competitions and 36 hour-long robot painting sessions controlled by people on the Internet."

For real? Yes! Art? Probably, definitely if you accept the original meaning of that word.  DeepDream has already experienced making a living as an artist, something Rod Mackay never quite managed in spite of decades of hard work. Why continue? It feels like the right thing to do. Living is no about making easy choices.