I took a two week class this summer to learn 3DsMax software.
My first intention was to have a tool to use in the presentation of my work. Commissions, art competitions all require drawings of the proposed idea. My work is nearly impossible to draw in itself, and although I can draw a still life with skill, I have a hard time drawing my installation/string work.
I found out the first day of the class, that 3DsMax was a GREAT way to present my work. By the second day, I had created a new work, lighted it and got some great snap shots of the newly imagined piece. By the end of the week, I even had films.
So my first intention in taking the class actually hit pay dirt.
For all the time I have been doing string installations, people ask me if my work was drawn by computer first. That raised my hackles, and I assured them, that I imagined the piece in my head and then built it. Drawing it by 3D somehow cheapened the idea in my mind.
After a week of my 3D class, I soon dropped that antiquated prejudice. I soon discovered that 3D was a GREAT way to work out new ideas. I could build a 30m piece in a day, light it, change it, refine it all before ever needing a to "string" it by hand. I realised I could work out a lot of the structural and aesthetic problems before ever "getting physical"
I could play with lighting, setting, scale, material, color... all with the click of a mouse.
So now, I find it to be an integral and necessary part of my work.
However, it should be noted that the work I do in 3D rendering is limited. It lacks all the hand-made qualities that I think make my work relevant. It lacks imperfection, which is also an important part of my work.
I now see that it is only a part of the creative process and doesn't in anyway replace the hands-on part. It is a step along the way to realizing a project. But not the final result.
The 3D images that come out of my studio, should never be considered anything other than sketches. Working drawings. They are not final pieces in themselves, to me.
They are fun, they are colorful, they are popular, they are easily readable...
BUT, they are not my "real" work and shouldn't be confused with it.
They make a great "other" point of view.
I'm having a ball, and am enjoying working through new ideas as they come to me and at rapid speed, instead of waiting for the once or twice a year "big projects" that come along, such as "crépuscule" in Colorado or "cathedral" in the volcanic mountains of Central France.
Those are where my work really lives and breathes, but if I only do those monumental pieces, my work advances too slowly for my taste.
Of course, I'm continually doing small pieces that I can advance my ideas with too, but I find having big projects, small sculptures AND 3-D provides a new richness, which allows me to explore different aspects of my visions, which compliment each other.