Why painting today? In the digital age, with its powers of instant recall and infinite reproduction, why are we witnessing an unprecedented revival of figurative painting? A Brush with the Real presents a survey of key contemporary artists who have each embraced painting and are working within a realist tradition. Through individual interviews the book peers into the life and work of each of these artists, discussing their methods, motives and sources, from art history to the internet and the language of film. The book celebrates the work of 51 artists who are each taking the medium in a new direction: from those who work with appropriation and found images, to those trying to get as close as possible to contemporary reality and first-hand experience, to artists who are simply using painting as a door to parallel or imaginary worlds. The book makes the argument that, since perhaps the early Renaissance, the role fulfilled by painting has never been so vital or timely: in our image-saturated culture, digital technology has given painting and its slow, full-resolution images a new lease of life.