Well folks, the designated black history month is over but ever continues in the background. Too much info and not enough mind to comprehend all you'll never learn in school. So back to the regular stuff.
Your Linuxville guide has done it. I have my new but used laptop with Ubuntu and open source apps on it. Then I took one of the PCs at the art center and loaded open source apps on it to match what I have on my laptop. The art center desktop runs Win XP. So I now have GIMP, Inkscape, MyPaint, Scribus, TuxPaint, Wings 3D, Libre Office, and Google's Sketchup on both machines.
Here's my plan. Introduce folks to Open Source Graphics Applications to learn what they can do with free software using the same tools and techniques as used in commercial software. This is basic stuff. The caveat comes when you want to step up to the next level. Do you buy the commercial software or learn the deeper skills on Open Source? Most Photoshop folk don't like GIMP and vice-versa. Familiarity and habit are the culprits. You do what you need to do but if you must learn both, I hope you've got a wide bandwidth. I think the key is knowing you don't have to know everything, just what you need to know, huh?
I haven't used the digital pen and tablet to draw, still haven't got into that. I have drawn on paper, scanned it into GIMP to tweak it, then imported it into Inkscape. In Inkscape there is a bitmap tracer that works great. I am also using GIMP/Inkscape to make textures for a Sketchup project. A few simple techniques can give you lots of mileage. Then when you learn something new, your repertoire is enlarged. I am so tempted to revisit older projects to capitalize on new skills. Don't make a habit out of that though, you never get any new stuff done. Man, if I only knew then what I know now!
I love the idea of the print. If you've done silk screen or lithographs or block prints, you know what I mean. The print can be a blast or the source of anguish. In the digital print world you have to learn to accept what it is, a print. Inkjet has it's character. It is not appreciated in the fine art sense the way inkjet print photography is. So a lot is riding on color and composition if the print device can spit it out. Yeah, you've got to work the software and the printer. I had a guy see my stuff imagining them as big paintings. When he saw they were small prints, what a let down. I am disappointed too, I told him. While I can do the artwork for free, the big prints are costly. My printer can print 13" x 42", I use a service like OfficeMax for larger prints. So printing big has no advantage over doing an acrylic painting the same size, where you have to buy paints and canvas and stretchers and frames, etc. Digital is cool though when it comes to reproductions, they all are originals.
I'm getting too busy doing things other than making art. Making artistic persons is time consuming. Still gathering hardware to have classes. We are looking for PC monitors now. Still having fun.