Friday, September 30, 2011

Open Source art world

Here in the far recesses of the Linuxville Guide office things are changing. The mom-n-law in residence, former art teacher, artist has a new gig with the Most High. She has left the building for the here-after. Reflecting on the stuff she saw in her lifetime of 93 years is an avalanche of change. Me, I am 6.0 in decades and some considerations are before me to re-invent myself again. I like digging new holes to find gold yet keeping the old holes just in case I missed something.

As you know I am an advocate for Free Open Source Software and Linux. Since joining the Lorain Arts Council, I have thought about classes in Digital Art. The computer has revolutionized the art world like every place else. Getting into digital art has been about buying expensive professional software to get started. If you are like me building on casual interest, you can't afford to commit cash for stuff you might change your mind about. The free software world has been the bane of artist for years. Programs of poor quality, shotty look and feel were typical. Open Source Software was at one time like that also, but overtime one person development mushroomed into development teams, the quality went way up.

So as things stand, there are Open Source Softwares that rival commercial softwares. They are not the same but close enough and depending upon the usage can exceed all expectations. My view is like this: There are standard tools and operations, all you need is a comfortable interface and quality, reliable and communicable output. The interface, tools and output. Standard tools and file sharing between other computers (Linux,Windows and Mac).

At the Lorain Arts Council site we are talking about getting some donated computers for digital art classes. This is so exciting because while some wouldn't do art with natural materials so easily, would be totally into it on the PC. So why push Open Source when the professional art world lives on commercial software. Freedom! Free from money restrictions and the mental construct of having to have so that you can be professional. After all we are talking beyond simple photo editing into the "fling of creative thinking", with low or no cost.

My personal software choices are GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) which is like Photoshop, Inkscape which is like Adobe Illustrator, My Paint a natural painting program, Scribus a desktop publishing program. For kids there is Tux Paint, very cool. I am not expert on any of these but online video tutorials help take away the mystery.
Also these programs have Linux, Windows and Mac versions, are free and if you have a laptop are portable too. And did I mention free?

There I am sitting at the riverside cafe, with GIMP on my laptop. I whip out my cell-cam take a pic, then transfer the pic into GIMP. Shall I manipulate it or use it as inspiration for a digital painting from scratch? We haven't even touched printing, a whole other world indeed.