Search Engines: New Digital Paintings by Chalda Maloff

View from Dry Shelter (detail) by Chalda Maloff

written by Chalda Maloff, Guest Blog Writer & Artist Member of

On Layering in Digital Art

I am often asked why, after decades of working in traditional media, I switched to digital art.   One key characteristic that draws me to this medium is the unique facilitation for working in layers of color and form.

My mind has always tended to conceive a composition in terms of layers.  My most instinctive method of developing an image is stratum by stratum, across the entire frame.  This manner of conceptualizing helps me toward developing compositions which are strong and integrated.

I started my art career using traditional oils and acrylics on canvas, often using multiple glazes and washes.  But these media were not entirely conducive to my creative process.  Because each brush stroke merges with the one below it as it is applied, I found the layering abilities in these media to be more of a tool for aesthetic effect than a means for building cohesive structure.

I was freshly stimulated when I began working in aquatint.  In the technology of this medium, the fundamental building block of an image is a layer. When doing a landscape in aquatint, for example, it is not practical to work on the tree first, then the hill; one must work on everything in the entire frame that will be of a certain color value in the final print, then everything that will be of another value. The artist addresses the entire surface of the image as a unit.  Nonetheless, as with oils and acrylics, each layer becomes fused with those beneath as it is completed.  It is not possible to work, say, on layer four and then tweak layer one.

View from Dry Shelter (detail) by Chalda Maloff

When I began using the computer for my art, I found a tool which uniquely complemented my inherent mental process, a tool in which the layer is a formalized construct.  Computer software allows all layers to remain discrete and workable throughout the creative process.  Thus, rather than merging aesthetic components in the expected manner, I can allow them each to remain distinct yet interact through transparency, juxtaposition, and overlap. This approach affords a novel and gratifying generative space in which to develop an artwork.

Chalda Maloff’s Artwork: “Search Engines — New Digital Paintings” can be seen at:

Ceres Gallery
May 28 – June 22, 2013
Reception: Thursday, May 30, 2013, 6-8pm, Open to the Public
547 West 27th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY
Phone: 212-947-6100

Chalda Maloff has exhibited her digital paintings throughout North and South America, and in Europe.  Recent awards include the Guerilla Painter Award from the Visual Arts Society of Texas and Second Mention of Honor at the VIII Salón de Arte Digital in Venezuela.  Recent solo exhibits have been at the Houston Jung Center in Texas and Morris Graves Museum of Art in California.  She holds a B.A. in the History of Art, a M.S. in Computer Science, and a doctorate in Human Ecology.  She lives in Austin, Texas.

Images Images above by Chalda Maloff
details from “View From Dry Shelter” 30″ x 30″

2 thoughts on “Search Engines: New Digital Paintings by Chalda Maloff

  1. Your article is well-stated. I was a traditioinal artist, but I now paint digitally. The layering process is most definitely an important and integral tool in digital painting. Thank you for your expressed views.

  2. Sena, thank you for your comment. Even in this age, so few people understand digital painting. They confuse it with digital photography, or giclee reproductions. I would love to see some of your work.

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