Friday, August 15, 2008
Filling the blank canvas
Culture is such a funny thing, even in Linuxville, schools of thought, conventional wisdom, what you need to know and taboos. You get raised up a certain way, shaped by family life and peer pressure. If you get the chance to peer beyond the small bubble, it's a whole different world, for a while. This was my life in and out a small suburban village outside a big city. I got a break from the peer pressure noise in college. I discovered free jazz and met people from other cities and country's, got to talk about ideas that didn't involve chasing girls, doing drugs, drinking beer or even obsessing over sports. I wore my dashiki every chance I could, played my saxophone and conga drums in a drum and dance troop, wrote poetry I hope no one remembers. I bought a vibraharp and a thumb-piano. But my restless exploring mind didn't stop to take time to learn these toys. In the deep recesses of my mind I wrestled with forms and shapes and expressions, what to put on the blank canvas, for I was also a painter. Acrylic paint was just the thing, it dried fast and didn't stink of turpentine. There was so much to resolve and painting just could not keep up with the flurry of images, my imagination so frustrated, my hands not so skilled. Leaving college, I got into electrical drafting, well, it paided the bills. I learned a different kind of drawing, pushing the artistic dreams into the background. I let my new learned skills season and shape my ideas. I would often get scolded by other artist for not working on my art. So for years I kept notebooks, sketching and working out the dreams in my head. My main problem was the media. I was still thinking of acrylic paint, wire and clay and other tangible junk that artist use. One day at work I got to maintain a wide plotter. I marveled at how the little image on my computer screen could come out so big on the plotter. So I chanced to scan in a drawing from my notebook and plot it out rather large. It was ugly but it proved a concept. Today there are wide inkjet plotters that print the same quality as that letter size photo printer on your desk. So, we found the medium that's suitable and an output that's versatile and sufficent, all we need is content. This is where the problem begins, the blank canvas or screen. My notebooks have become a starting point, I guess. You can imagine, being a draftsperson for so many years has had to have some effect on my techniques or style. And to top it all off, since I was not totally schooled as an artist professional, I am somewhat free from constraints, though there is much I don't know. Yes, you have to forget all your training to remember what you actually learned, that's suffering. Something comes to the top, pushes through your mind, pulses through your hands. You become resourceful, you find a way to express it. With me the computer has grown up just in time, it is the right tool for me. Then I don't have dreams of going where other digital artist seem to be going. I have a view to which I can apply these tools, somewhere between simplicity and complexity. I see every room has six surfaces, every house and building, multiple rooms, all waiting for somebody's art. Why not mine?