Saturday, September 05, 2009

serious art fun in Linuxville

Hi folks, I am writing from a remote location today, the other end of my desk. Perched atop a printer stand, my spare PC is humming and sporting #!Crunchbang Linux. Here's a screenshot of this desktop at rest.

Like the glass! The white lettering on the top right is called Conky, it's a system monitor display and below has a note area which shows keyboard shortcuts. Man that is genius! A heads up display!
The next is another wallpaper I devised:

Making your own wallpaper is awesome fun. I am finding out just what I can do with Linux graphics applications. I am using Inkscape for vector drawing and GIMP for bit-map drawing. Using both together gives you a wide range of possibilities. If you like dabbling in art and especially if you are light on investment resources, Inkscape and GIMP are available in Linux and MS Windows versions, are free to download and............what's keeping you!?!

If you are serious about art then you must get these to play with, but I will warn you about when play gets serious. When my wife calls to eat dinner, I have artist withdrawal symptoms.

My latest puzzle is trying to figure out how to draw a concave shape. There are lots of tutorials on how to draw a button with a raised look, but not a dished look. It is a matter of how the light strikes the surface and give the illusion of depth. In GIMP it is easy using bump map techniques (emboss and engrave filters). With Inkscape it is different but still possible.
Here's my progress so far of a square dinner plate.

The one on the left is my first attempt, you really can't tell if it's a bump or a dish. The right side is more dished. The shift in light on various areas clues you to what you see. I will use these types of shapes as design elements in a future project. I just wanted to show that the intrigue for some of us is not in the meaning of the subject matter, it's the elements that enable the story to be told. We design the characters, build a composition and present a work. A big part of the story is what you behold in a certain context.

The computer as an artist tool allows you to use various techniques to put all the elements together. It can sketch pencil style if that is how you work or work with photos or allow you to model realistic looking objects, cartoonish objects and mimic the look of traditional art media. But when it is all said and done either it is viewed on the computer monitor, movie screen or it is printed on some flat surface. Any resemblance of texture is illusionary or a part of the surface it is printed on, maybe even added by the artist. This is the nature of the media, it is what it is. One day we will probably have a printer ink that will puff up in some way to add texture, I don't know. I have come to believe computer printed art is like silk screen, litho-prints, stamp art, photography or any other flat image to paper transfer method. We have a way to control the color and value and placement of a dot. The software makes it seem like you are using a pencil, pen, brush, bucket of paint, typewriter and eraser. You can draw a micro-dot or a billboard. It can be virtual (on the screen) or printed out. You have to know that the computer itself doesn't do squat until you tell it. Even automatic art requires a programmer.
What a computer does depends on you the artist.

The traditional art establishment still has a hard time with computer art. How do you put a high value on art where the original is a computer file and every printout is almost an exact duplicate. I say almost because it depends on the type of printer, the quality of the inks and the quality of the material it is printed on. Sort of makes the actual file being printed anti-climatic. It also blows the rarity/age factor out the window. You do a painting, it is the only one, to reproduce it is impossible. So you photograph it, scan it and print it in limited editions to hold it's value. In computer art all the prints are exact dupes of the original computer file. Like I said, value is by a different group of factors. If the file gets out on the internet, you loss the means to control both it's value and the revenue due you. So you can see why art folks are having a time dealing with this computer art thing. It pretty much the similar as with music artist. The modern technology has helped music be more available and cut the flow of revenue to the artist. The only way is for artist to have total ownership of their own work and have transparent channels of distribution. Today's channels of distribution are anything but transparent.

I don't know how or if things will change for the better. Artist all have struggles, the drive to create is so strong and the way to make a living while creating is so precarious. It is about where you are located and who you know and how you are seen............and me your humble Linuxville guide, am in the mix. I will probably not move to the big city (Microsoft OS) or that other well known tech town (Mac OS), here in Linuxville we will endeavor to make a name for ourselves (we have a global presence too!).

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