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The March of the Machines
By Clive Bryant: Art in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
The following article was written by Clive Bryant, artist in his newsletter, which you may subscribe for by clicking the button below:
Clive has graciously given us permission to reproduce this article in The BoldBrush Letter and we feel it’s a great topic for our readers because, with all the negativity about AI, Clive illustrates a great positive use of AI for fine artists. This stuff isn’t going away, so it’s worthwhile to consider what opportunities it may provide you.
In art circles, AI has received generally negative attention, owing to the fact that it can generate images of paintings that look like they were painted by a particular artist, but are in fact computer-generated. To do so, the algorithms were trained on thousands of works of art without first obtaining the artists' consent, utilising photos that are publicly available on the Internet.
While it would have been difficult to prevent this from happening, the "genie is out of the bottle" now, and the situation would be impossible to reverse. AI is a black box. Even the developers don't fully know how it achieves what it does - that's its power. There is talk of artists being able to opt out of having their works featured in future updates, which could help alleviate some of their concerns. However, when you factor in the complexities of copyright issues, you can see how this is a challenging terrain to negotiate.
Here, though, I'd like to share a positive experience I have had with AI, using it to create images that I can then utilise as references for paintings.
Playing around on an AI system (midjourney.com) a few weeks ago, I was able to generate some wonderfully evocative and inspirational images. Not every one was a "hit". In the creation of hundreds of poor images, a good one would appear every now and again. It became a matter of refinement and discernment.
By way of example, let me show you one of the images I decided to work with. Here it is, straight out of Midjourney:
Beautiful isn't it? This image got me excited.
But why bother to paint it? It's already the finished article.
Ah, but did you spot the hand?
Oh dear - AI has assembled her hand on backwards!
And that upper arm looks very thin doesn't it? The more you look at the image, the less real it becomes. It's AI, after all; it is not an image of a real person.
These sort of errors happen regularly. AI is both ferociously intelligent and completely stupid at the same time! Multiple limbs, elongated body parts, deformed faces, etc., they're all part of the process.
I ended up creating a number of similar images which I digitally combined and manipulated to arrive at the finished reference for painting (mirrored to face the other way):
Here is my painting after two sessions. Most of the problems are resolved, and it now just needs more time spent on it, refining areas and building interest. I hope you like it!
I look forward to showing you this painting in a more completed state, along with others I'm working on in the series, over the coming weeks.
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