Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm still at it.

Where is RNO the artist today? Mostly with my head into tracing what happened to the Hebrews after Jerusalem was flattened in 70AD, where did they scatter to and who are their descendants today.??? But also doing some art where I take portions of figures from my sketchbook and play around with them.

You got to love how a computer can be the hub for art. I can draw on paper, scan it into the PC, then use a number of softwares to manipulate things to make art I probably couldn't do so easily on paper and print it out. You want to see?

There are a number of things I can do with this but the part that bugs me is at this time my funds are short, so I can't get this printed the size it needs to be. I really like when you go into a gallery and there is a nice big painting. But since I am not a painter I am robbed of the scale my prints could be. I am working on that. Right now though it feels strange to be satisfied with smaller prints.

I haven't named this yet, I was thinking about how real African history is recorded in stories and legends and in the writings of witnesses from other countries passing thru. When you put the pieces and snippets together in a pile, patterns start to emerge. It is so weird to zoom in for a close look, them zoom out for a global view. When you zoom out and change the time frame, the items stay the same but the names, languages and situations all change.

I ordered some memory cards for my ancient laptop, they came but didn't work. Right size and kind but loose in the slots (I thought). The old ones don't have any problem. Still I get around having adequate memory by not doing lots of fancy stuff in the drawing applications. This is what artist do, work with limitations. In fact it is harder to work with a full pallet of colors than one limited to a few. I think this is why some only use a primary set, then mix other colors as needed.

I am told over and over to use more color. This big splash of color is great if you want to compete with a flat screen video monitor or commercial displays. I am targeting the home, many people like a more subdued approach for home art. I think art for the home needs to blend in with existing decor, unless you like unavoidable attention getters in a room. Also when I show in the gallery, the picture is in a wide open space. The home space is small in comparison, the lighting much more subdued.

You learn that people rarely agree with your reasons for doing stuff until after you explain it to them, still "you could use more color." Hey, who is the artist? You do one with more color if you like that. Is that a commission or an unfunded mandate? "No, just an opinion." Oh!

Back to my quest and see ya!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

calling all artist of Lorain County Ohio

Hi there fellow artist and art fans of Lorain Ohio. You are all invited to participate in the Lorain Arts Council's efforts to promote the arts in Lorain County. We in Lorain have been thru the muck for a long time. Some say cesspool, some say compost heap. I go along with the compost heap because that is good fertilizer over time. So, now it is time to plant something wonderful in the rich fertile soil we created in our mutual suffering as a city and county. So the call is out wither you become a member of LAC or not to do art in Lorain.

How many cities have used the arts as mortar to plug holes between the bricks in their towns? How many have turned what is regarded as pastime activities into catalyst for change and revenue streams? The paint dabbler become a recognized artist, the garage band from internet videos to mainliners in shows, idea note jotters become book writers, playwrights, it goes on and around each activity is all kinds of business opportunity. The city gets transformed because people work together, face to face. People lose the fear of taking risk when the vision of improvement is shared. What risk? The risk of trusting others with your time, money, goals, dreams, etc. Who wants unfulfilled lonely dreams? Nobody! Get together with like minded and goaled dreamers and realize shared results.

At present I am the only Black, African American, on the rolls of the Lorain Arts Council. There are others of various origins, that is not an issue, at this instance I am addressing African American artist in Lorain County. We have a good mix of cultural heritage in Lorain, yet Blacks are invisible in Lorain. Yes, you can go to Cleveland, but here in Lorain adrift between the Oberlin college and Lorain County Community College is a big empty space called the ailing city of Lorain. To have a strengthened Black voice in the arts would stimulate Black hopes and progress in a lot of areas. It would be light in the eyes of hundreds of people who live here without pride in themselves. Don't give me that “I've got pride” stuff, pride in self is lonely, and hard. When you can see what others like you are doing, thinking, dreaming, you have a sense of place, more so if you participate.

Lorain County was part of the Underground Railroad, Toni Morrison was born here, what are we doing and thinking today, here in Lorain. Besides, I would love to talk about art and art business and collaborate and innovate and push the envelope and by all means to raise the standard of living in Lorain. The word diversity for many Blacks has meant blending into the woodwork. I rather use the word African diaspora so I do not lose the savor of my flavor while being included in the diversity. I hate we have to resort to “the African American presents in Lorain” tactic but we are already late to the party, need to get on with it. We live here too.

So, I invite all Lorain County artist of every discipline and art fans, especially those of the African Diaspora to hook up. LAC website is

Thursday, July 14, 2011

drat, darn, shucks, back to the mouse

Turns out the ceasing of the jitters on my digital tablet connected to my laptop was an anomaly. Oh well. I did find a couple of "how to draw with your mouse" tutorials, one in "Deviantart":  Yes, practice is the same as exercising spelled differently, no one likes to start doing it, but having started, it's OK!

For the most part doing art on a computer is easy, almost painless. You point and click and boom, it's done. Then you scan the internet for inspiration. Just when your eyes are as big as quarters, you realize it takes knowledge and skills you haven't acquired yet to do stuff like that. Easy is over rated and artist must suffer, you know. I'm not talking about taking out the daily garbage or poor returns for your output of masterpieces. You aren't a master yet, you must face Vader! Where did that come from. Artist suffrage is........a painter who forces his will upon his materials finally learns to work with his materials. The brush stroke with so much paint acts this way, the arm angle, the way the brush hairs bend and twist when you push or drag. What about digital art, sure the computer can do a lot but what if you want subtle effects, fades, blends, sweeps, hard edge and soft shadows. The software is a fancy all powerful brush that you have to learn what it can do and what you can do with it. It is suffering to repeat a new pattern until it is second nature. It is a good thing computers support repeatable results. Do it enough times not only will you learn it, remember it, you will discover new angles too.

Here is my dilemma. Finding my own voice, telling my own stories, taking advantage of my limitations and my abilities. This is why I must draw stuff myself and not rely mainly on clipart and Gimp/Photoshop brushes made by others. Yes it is more work and sometimes takes you off course, but in the end, it is all your work. I don't think artist who do commercial or time sensitive art projects have time to make their own tools, any time saver is welcome. But you with the pocket protector of digital pens and the mouse holster, need to get over self image and get some work done.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

actually drawing on a PC

Here at the Linuxville chateau things are a changing. As you can guess I am the most scatter-brained artist who ever lived. Most of the artist I know have this focus like a laser to get projects done. Me, more like a flashlight. You've got to understand the media I'm working with is so vast. A traditional artist might say here's pen and paper, so I draw. I say here's the computer, the software, how do I proceed to draw.

I do have an ancient laptop which is my tool of availability and a digital drawing tablet. The tablet is a Wacom Graphire 2 about as old as the laptop. I never used the tablet because the cursor jitters uncontrollably plugged into the laptop. It works OK on my upstairs desktop but I don't spend much time upstairs. The other day I had a thought, what if I plugged a monitor into my laptop and see if the tablet would work better. So plugging my 14" CRT into the laptop brings the following revelations besides I should have tried this years ago.

I now have dual monitors but the same image on both. I don't think I can get split screens, this is OK. The color is richer on the CRT and the image more precisely focused on the laptop's LCD. Then somehow when I plug in the drawing tablet the jitters are gone. The cursor is rock steady. I am laughing like crazy because my old nemesis has resurfaced, I can't draw well. Sure I have used a sketchbook to record ideas but hand drawing a finished picture I can't recall ever doing. I am a draftsman, used to drawing with instruments. Even using computer aided drafting software (CAD) is basically instrument drawing. In my artwork I have used mostly what is known as vector drawing. This is the equivalent to instrument drawing with shapes and color fills. To draw on the computer similar to drawing or painting on paper is called raster or pixel drawing. Whats the diff?

With vector the end points of a line are marked then connected. The line between the recorded points can be altered by moving the line or the end points. It all stays connected. With raster or pixel drawing a line is a trail of independent pixels. If you want to move them, you've got to select all of them. It's just a line of dots and you can erase any of them the same as a pencil line on paper. It is said that vector lines are intelligent (they bend and stretch) and raster or pixels are more natural. On the computer you can make one look sort of like the other but pixel drawing can resemble more closely the natural way things look when we draw them with natural media. The big thing is that in vector you can draw a postage stamp and scale it up to a billboard size with no loss of composition. Scaling a pixel postage stamp spreads the pixels, the image gets fuzzier (pixelated) until it's just a array of widely spaced dots, the picture is gone.

Well the fun part is that both kinds of drawing are before me to mess with. And the computer can assist to extend my meager skills and add a few of it's own (under my direction of course). So just as with discovering how the paintbrush flops and the paint flows, I have to see how the points and pixels do the same on the screen. It's a wide world of experiencing this electronic media. Then there is printing but that's another adventure.

Friday, July 01, 2011

men and machines both need fixin

Friends and relatives think I know a thing or two about computers. Lately they been on me about speeding up their PC. There are power users and ones who unknowingly use a lot of power. Multi-tasking has been a mark of computing superiority, how many applications open in use or waiting to be used. The illusions of some to say if the app is open and waiting, my waiting is short. Now wait a minute! I mean you could wait a minute to allow for due process. There are reasons for your PC to be a tad slow. Some operating systems are designed poorly or are on the edge of breaking to give you the illusion of good performance. The user mistakenly translates that to mean speed when depending on the resources and data being pushed really means "fast enough".

First thing I know about computers is if you are not using it shut it down. I have a Bluetooth app running in the background, I don't own any Bluetooth devices to sync with my computer. If you have eyecandy and other compositing effects and don't really need them, turn them off. There is a background services running monitor. If you understand what it is showing, you can turn off things you are not needing. Also apps that start up when you boot up, you need to check it. Then look at email retrieving, do you really need to check it every 10 minutes. Your web browser stores cookies and downloads crap all the time you surf. Lets face it you don't surf, you scuba.

The other thing I now is a little about hardware, some about Linux, less and less about MS Windows any rendition. I have heard that Windows will allocate a part of your precious memory for every open application, sometimes not letting it go when you close the app. This could get hairy if you multi-task or not close properly (remember due process?). Linux may do this too, I'm not picking on Windows.

My Linux experience says the desktop uses a good chunk of memory. My laptop only has 512mb, so I switched from Gnome desktop to XFCE. The result is when using the Inkscape drawing program, the cursor is firm, stable and visible. The response is quicker and the editing is faster also. The other thing I noticed is that videos wither CD or a file on my hard drive plays better when the desktop is not hogging the memory. I did notice that a new Windows install will progressively slow over time. In part because of its design and because of user habits. I have not had this with Linux. Linux performance stays pretty flat in the long run if I don't overload the memory. Why don't I buy more memory? You try to find and buy older laptop memory without winching and flinching.

I like Linux because I can change things around to accommodate the hardware I have. I like the whiz-bang of the cutting-edge but I rather have a working computer running smooth with few issues. Linux gets 5 stars, MS Windows 3.5 stars, any user 2 stars, two cents or two bits. You've heard mind, your Linuxville guide and not so madman after all, later.