Wednesday, June 24, 2009

approaching art

So you want to be an artist? The page is blank, what do you draw? Do you draw what you see around you or what passes in front of your fantasy world view? With me it's I won't know till I see it. I tend to stay true to my drafting background, designing pieces and fitting them together. I imagine the work on a wall in your home, something you can live with. I don't imagine what you would like to see, I don't know that. Many artist become trained pros who can do your bidding, I am not one of them. Drawing anything and everything is not my voice.

Art can shape an environment and nurture your thoughts. I noticed as teens we outfit our bedrooms with huge flashy embraces of what ever impresses us. The problem is that if this is our world, it is so limited. Makes life hard if we define ourselves by the momentary and have to move on, grow up, or change our scene. In my area, rock 'n' roll is dominate and it's symbol, the Fender guitar is iconic, the metaphor is replayed and acted out over and over, but have you ever seen and heard the Chapman Stick? It makes the guitar seem like a tin box with rubber-bands. The Chapman Stick is not a symbol of rebellion like the guitar, it is art, refined and cultured. It is like the classical acoustic guitar only way way advanced.

The computer as an artist tool is the same as the Chapman Stick. It can mimic many of the same styles and looks as traditional media's but is way advanced. It can be approached simply or with mind numbing complexity, depends on the artist. We like to show all what the computer can do, but we don't think much of simplicity. We boot it up, the lights blink out across the city, the earth shakes a little, the screen blazes layer upon layer of animation, explosions, laser flashes. The animator's daughter visits on bring the kid to work day, she sits in your chair as you fire up the behemoth digital manipulator. She takes the mouse or pen in hand and draws a flower on the screen, simple but exquisite. Who is the digital artist now?

I put a program called Tux Paint on my two computers (one Ubuntu Linux, one XP). My 8 year old grand-kids dabbled for 3 hours straight. I learned a lot just watching them figure it out, explore and create. When school art programs get cut it is a big mistake. Art is a thought process, very useful and needed in today's world. It is a thought process you can't adequately learn from regurgitating facts, history and formulas. Art teaches you to take what is in you, around you and what you have access to, combine them in traditional and unique ways. Art teaches you to visualise, plan, gather resources, utilise tools and talents, execute, perform and produce an output, a final product or a result. Art is applied science. Like anything else in life you have to teach kids to think in different ways. If you cut out one way of thinking, you lose the fruits of those kinds of skills on the graduating end. A doctor who can not creatively apply his skills and knowledge is safer sticking on band-aids than fixing hearts.

So, you don't want to teach art with a future profession as a focus, but the art process as a method, a way of thinking is essential. Let me repeat, don't teach art as a skill set, but as a thought process. This is more valuable than learning to draw. If kids have the art gene, they will pursue drawing. The important thing is that kind of thinking. Being able to apply the factual training to different situations and different people is the key, this is creative thinking.

This is also why I appreciate Linux. Linux is not all packaged and thought out for you. It requires some forethought, some thinking things through and a realisation that Microsoft is not all there is. With Microsoft there are legal limits, with Linux there are no limits that hinder you from designing and inventing on many levels. Linux is not free in the sense it does require commitment of time to learn it, feel it. Though MS acquired skills are transferable, Linux has quirks that are unique to itself. It is not hard to know multiple computer platforms, much simpler than learning multiple languages. This is why it's hard to separate art from science, they are the application of each other.

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