Monday, August 11, 2008

bells and whistles or chiming in and pucker a tweet

Wouldn't it be great if you could get all you ever imagined in a drawing program and all you had to do was click the icon. It doesn't happen in the real world and it won't happen on your desktop. Besides, if you take the human element out of drawing on the computer, you wouldn't need the human and you couldn't call it art. You'd call it math, science or programming. But still the most complex iteration of code could never equal the subtle expression in a line under control of the whims of thought, emotion and imagination of the human mind and articulation of the hand. Mimic maybe, but never equal. In art we call "workflow" the process that gives form and direction and the final result. Process can be computerized but there is no one program that does it all well. So, we have bit-mapped software and vector software. I am learning to use both on the same projects to make up for what the other lacks. You learn to import and export parts of a drawing to work on it with the most advantageous tools. Bit-mapped programs have erase as well as undo, then you can trace the bit-mapped image back into the vector program and integrate it back into place. It is like a sidebar to explain a point in detail, then getting back to the main story. Gimp and Inkscape work great together. In Inkscape, I think the object fill is so limited, even if you can get it just right you can't alter it much once in place. But if you design your fill pattern, export it as a bit-map into GIMP, make tweaks and adjustments, import it back into Inkscape, trace the bit-map, now you can do a Boolean operation to fit the object to be filled. Yeah, it is a pain to go back and forth, but they say artist must suffer to get great art. And just think, because it is all on your computer you don't have balled up sheets of paper all over the room, reminding you of frustration and anguish. Trial and error is replaced by discovery and recovery. Don't forget to save your work often, "to back up is the beginning of wisdom."

What's so cool about computers is if you come across a color combination you really like, you can save the picture and use a color picker tool to find out what that color is. Gimp has a built-in color picker tool and there is a stand alone application called Gcolor2 in Ubuntu Linux you can download. This app will tell you the numerical value of the color many other applications understand as well. Then if you need companion colors that harmonize or compliment, Agave is the application which suggest which colors work well together.

So, to dispel the notion that computers replace the artist, automatically producing output that can't really be called art. Computers are tools, they require skilled manipulation and imagination, just as would any art materials and media. Computers do nothing without an operator and without an artist, be it a programmer or pixel pusher, can not make art. If you are stuck on traditional artist media, that is fine. But the technology to produce/reproduce art works has progressed to a great degree. You have to ask which is the original art work, the graphic file or the finished printout or copies?? Digital changes everything. In drafting, we see a machine like precision and clarity of details. You can have that in art but I'd rather not. I like the hand drawn and the opportunity to discover the story. If it looks like a square I don't want to measure it or know if it's true, the impression of squareness is enough, that's art.

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