Digital Lead – A Post Modern Art Journey

Tonya Knudsen -

One of my many inventions to go nowhere rather quickly was my concept of Digital Lead as a new art medium.

So what is Digital Lead?

First and foremost, it is lead or silver (or any other dangerous mineral I could find molded into the shape of a pencil or etching device) which I could illustrate with.

And, there had ​to be a “poetic notion.”

Next came an illustration crafted onto a letter-sized piece of thin paper with a slightly glossy surface. Cheap paper from the copy machine at the office always worked best.

The sketch had to have shading with a fair amount of oil from my fingers mixed in. And, it had to have good lines.

What I mean by good lines are lines that vary in width ever so gently and jaggedly.

Then into the scanner it went at 600 dpi.

When I would open it in Photoshop, I would see the colors in the pixels. You had to blow it up very large to find the colors, but they were always there. They were created by the light from the scanner, the metal in the lead, and my human oil.

I would make a digital palette of the colors. Following that, I would use the palette to “color” the drawings with Photoshop filters and tools. I loved this medium. I loved the real illustrations coming through vibrantly. The final product always looked like a gorgeously hued photograph.

Aside from the medium which I called Digital Lead, the subject matter always played heavily in my mind’s eye as I worked.

I used to call them my Dead Women. But they were not dead. They were objects. They were emotions. They reminded me of the Patrick Nagels I grew up adoring. Then in college I took art history and discovered Nan Goldin and the evolving definition of Post Modernism.

Post Modernism was more than just a great collection of videos on MTV. Who knew?

So my Digital Lead creations became Post Modern and I took the moniker of Post Modern Dame.

Each girl had a line of poetry written for her, some sad, some longing. Generally the story lines had a witty twist to them, a lesson to be learned. And they were always decadent.

About a month ago, for the first time in over a decade, I made a new Digital Lead for the cover of my first book: The Duchess Adlai: Introductions, Inventions, and the Most Awesome Adventures. Working on the illustration reminded me of my earlier works which have been filed away, gathering cyberdust.

I picked a few to share with you.

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