Thursday, June 03, 2010

the play makes the difference.

When I was in grade school learning to write, we first traced the letters, then under the watchful eyes of the teacher drew letter forms. Circles, curves, humps, horizontals, verticals and slants, over and over, then letters one by one. There was one standard, one look till we moved on. Some kids kept the forms and some veered off. Our own style crept in to alter the standard forms. Believe it or not this also happened in drafting, despite how hard the teacher enforced the standard forms, we eventually migrated to our own style even ever so slightly. 

You would think with the mathematical precision of a computer, drawing would be mechanical. It can be or be as haphazard as any doodle on a napkin. This is why I bring up play. I play a lot to discover what I can do, like to do and might do. It is almost easier to approach say water color like painting on a computer and hang with that for a while. But since you can simulate many approaches, the temptation to explore other styles is always present. You can be a purist or break all the rules, who's to stop you. I myself come from a drafting background, thus vector drawing is very similar. Combining shapes with hard edges is old school to me. I also have kept sketchbooks over the years. I don't care for pencil sketching that much but any kind of inking device is fun, nib, quill, felt or ball-point. I have also painted in acrylics on canvas, years ago. Right now I getting used to using a graphics tablet and pen. This contraption is not easy to use if you cut your teeth on a mouse. And since I am leaning toward a more sketchbook kind of drawing to record ideas I'm not worried about life-like perfection. But who knows what talent is to be discovered, this is why play is so important.

In my playing around or dabbling I use a program called Inkscape for vector drawing. Like Adobe Illustrator, it handles vectors well. Perhaps there are some things I can not do that Illustrator can, but I have not hit that wall. For raster stuff I use GIMP. I am a dabbler and freelance artist so I don't have to listen or worry about what the so-called pros say about GIMP. If you have access to Photoshop and use it, please shut-up about GIMP and use your Photoshop. Oh yeah, Inkscape and GIMP are free and open source. I can't get what I paid for because I didn't pay anything. Both quite good for free. Come on, I heard about a famous artist picking the hair from his beard for the hairs of his paintbrush, curious, cheap or totally not true?

And what about that talented artist who did portraits on an Etch-a-sketch and dumped the gray stuff out so that they couldn't be erased. Don't tell me about artist and their tools. If you can make great art with Microsoft Paint or Open Source Tux Paint, who is going to condemn you? I have complete liberty to kick commercial aspirations to the curb or not. I am saying if Photoshop is what you must have and use, do that. Otherwise don't feel obligated when so many good choices that do the same stuff are available. The way of the force is to use what you have access to. The tools are a channel, PC and software and your efforts. How the force is expressed depends on you. Go dabble!

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