Collector’s Choice: Cynthia Decker


I am a lighthearted digital artist currently living and working in Asheville, North Carolina.

My artwork is best described, I think, as ‘imaginary realism’. I like to create impossible or improbable environments that have familliar textures and evocative moods. Most of my work has humor, or a bit of a story to tell.

I am inspired by the everyday, by small moments and big ideas. I love working in the digital medium because it lets me take these ideas and present them to you the same way I see them in my head—as places you could walk into and explore.

I believe the digital medium is finding its place in the art world, and that artists should use, value and enjoy all available means of creative expression. I hope that artists and art lovers everywhere continue to push the boundaries of what constitutes a fine art medium.






Click on thumbnails to enlarge.



I live and work nestled in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. I am blissfully married to my loving and supportive husband, who is an industrial designer for most of the day and a talented woodworker for whatever is left over. My handsome, brilliant stepson is in college studying Architecture (or maybe something else, he hasn’t decided yet) . My office studio faces right into the woods adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Every day I am surrounded by the perfect balance of technology and nature. I couldn’t wish for more.

As a child, I would draw and paint at any opportunity. My Mother was the head of the computer science department at a local community college, and my father was an engineer for Ford Aerospace. We had a computer in the house when not very many people had home computers. I used to doodle on used punch cards and green and white striped pin fed printer paper. I began drawing – pixel by pixel – on a glorious Apple II computer when I was about 13, and I never stopped. Throughout high school and college I studied design, and during this time I started digital painting, and also continued working in traditional media; mostly pastels and acrylic paint.

I left college to begin a graphic design career and continued to teach myself and explore new digital media. I began using 3D software in 1998 and was immediately hooked. Initially, my portfolio was exclusively online, and I was invited to participate in many web-based galleries. My images seemed to generate a lot of interest. People began requesting prints through my website and after doing research into fine art printing, I began creating and selling high resolution archival prints of my work in 2003. That same year I started showing and selling my framed images at permanent gallery space in Asheville, NC, where I am still represented. I have told them they’re never getting rid of me. They seem OK with this.


The Foreclosure Crisis

3d modeling is how each object in an image is created. The process involves using computer programs (3DS Max, for example) that allow the artist to create digital wireframe objects. The wireframes are created with points or curves, defined by math and visible on the computer screen in a simulated 3-dimensional space. Models can be made in different ways, by starting with a basic polygonal shape and modifying it, (like sculpting with clay) or by creating outlines and then volumizing and detailing the object (like creating a form for papier mache).

The wireframe objects include everything and anything you see when you look at my images—clouds, flowers, mountains, trees, people, animals—everything begins with a digital wireframe. I either create, purchase, or re-use items that I’ve already made as my first step in making an image. In the sample image at the right, I had to make a teacup, a spoon, a table, a napkin, a raft… all the things that make up the content of the scene.

The process of creating 3D renderings incorporates various traditional artistic techniques, but relies on pixels instead of paint, the computer mouse or a digitizing tablet instead of a brush, and digital geometry instead of clay. Almost everyone has seen 3D renderings these days; whether it’s an architectural walkthrough on television or a modern animated movie. The technology is used in product design and production, advertising, medical visualization, and dozens of other industries.

Basically, it’s a lot like using the computer to create a diorama, except instead of putting it in a shoebox like you did in school, you build the pieces and assemble the scene in the computer. It all starts just like any other work of art does. With an idea, and a plan. Or something like a plan. In my case, I start with a sketch, where I rough out the composition and get a general idea of the color palette and major parts of the image. Once that’s reasonably in place, I get started on modeling.

Once completed, the wireframe objects are then wrapped or filled with color and texture created specifically for that object. The software allows the artist to specify exactly how and where the texture material is applied to each object in a scene. As part of the material, simulated or physical texture—called bump maps or displacement maps—can be added to lend further realism to an object. Bump maps take what would ordinarily be a completely flat surface and either change the physical geometry of the item, or simulate that change, to give a surface detail features like cracks, or grit, or lumps. General surface properties can be definied and modified, making the material shiny, reflective, illuminated, or translucent, for example. Materials can be made from scratch in a paint program or can be modified from photographs, or they can be built using mathematical functions from within the software. Material selection is the most critical part of any of my images. A relatively simple model can be made into something extraordinary by correctly creating and applying the right material.

To read more about Cynthia’s artistic process, please go to Cynthia’s web site posted at the top of this page.




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