Thursday, November 29, 2012

Linux stuffy print "Q" tip

Watched a guy on TV live with wild turkeys, he hung wid the byrds from egg to adults. What an interesting adventure, much like living with 6 cats. Only I'm not getting down on their level. No offense to you cat whisperers out there. My nose is always clogged with cat stuffs and breathing thru a filter is snot the way to go thru life. This brings me to the point of this blog, the print que.

Ever since acquiring my printers there has been this thing hanging over my head. You send a print to the printer and it sits in a que until the PC is done with it and the printer is ready for it. If by chance these events never will wait When your PC crashes at least MS XP gives you the blue screen of death, Linux freezes (penguins like that), but when printing fails, nothing. "Warning, warning Will Robinson", would be nice. Linux does have printer tools but in the version I have they are not in an graphic application like GIMP or a print application like PhotoPrint. They are part of the system software, so if you don't read the manual (if you can find one) or search the user forums (I don't need no stinkin map!), you won't know. You will suffer a stuffy "Q" and get no prints.

Is there a solution, yes. I finally went to a forum on line and asked the question. There are probably a few answers but I grabbed the first one, it works fine for me. First I'll set the scene.

 You been trying to print artwork. Regular docs print OK but artwork can have changed settings, size, orientation, paper. No matter, no prints. Code heads usually go to the dreaded command-line (oh no, not the command-line, what if I blow up something or fry my PC?). Relax, but just a little. Deep breaths and unclench your death-grip on the mouse. Open your web browser, yes the web browser. It can do a few things off line like speak to your PC.

OK, now type: "localhost:631/jobs/" into the address bar and hit the return. Up pops a screen with your print "Q". You can now select which jobs you want to cancel. I had three jobs all stalled. I canceled them, cleared the "Q". It worked so easy. I was able to adjust my print settings and print like crazy. Now I don't know if this will work on MS Windows system, it works on my Linux Mint system. So, you need to inquire of the community who have similar hardware and software as you, if you have the same problem. In the parley of techie-dom, "google it". I hope I helped un-stuff your stuffy "Q" and free your printing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

confessions of the bud of taste

As the artist and if you are in the blank page syndrome a lot, need to address it. It is not so much a what to draw or a how to draw issue but a communication issue. How do you use your approach to art and connect with the audience at hand. I am working this out even as we type/read. My style is simple-n-precise and although abstract is more controlled, I tend to do it once, in a moment and I'm done. I get, as expected, nods from other artist who appreciate the technical aspect, the work ethic and the mental interplay of art reason. I watch typical art on-lookers walk by with a glance. Ooh, tough crowd. I feel like a stand up comic when they laugh at the joke and are dead silent at the punch line.

OK, here's where the artist undocumented skills come into play. You must balance your art assertiveness with the viewing audience at hand or find an audience who likes you as is and show there (niche). Since I am rather immobile at present, I must find a way to connect. This is not to give up on what I see myself, this is to communicate, strike a chord with the audience at hand.

I had the opportunity to be a part of an art walk via our gallery and art center, and several art shows open to the public. Observation. Watching the stream of people walk past works of art, their reactions, their comments. The people around us like really fine art, who doesn't? They also appreciate high levels of complexity. This amounts to highly complex finely done works to works of wild abandonment, (scribbling and squiggling).  I am not talking about figurative art, people don't seem to have inner arguments with those works. But take away subject matter and folks free fall till they land on an understanding. Even me, dag, what the heck, then I'll step back and see how the color or patterns work in a room or how it makes me feel. OK, it works, I even like it.

Next, I try not to use that "like" to endorse all the work by that artist. I like a musician named Archie Shepp. In a period of his life his music speaks directly to me. His other tunes don't thrill me as much. It is like that with all artist. They strike many chords, when they play my tune I surrender my ears. I do try to justify listening to their other works, but I listen for what I have enjoyed. If I don't hear it I get an attitude. You know it is the same with visual artist. They/I draw/paint many things. Sometimes it is pure, sometimes contrived, but what strikes you is what you like. If you expect to see what you like from an artist all the time, you will be disappointed. But being the people we are, we will hang in there as a fan (this is cool for us artist). We conn ourselves to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. Are we rewarded? Yes, because we grow with them. I have listened to John Coltrane since the 70's, some tunes of his I still can't comprehend. Many of his tunes I only just now are appreciating, listening till I get it.

Anyway, my original premise here is to say, there is a chord that vibes with the audience at hand. If paint on the canvas doesn't work they might like the same art on a tattoo, or on a motorcycle gas tank or a bathroom shower curtain. What works in a living room might not work in a coffeeshop. Some even work in a gallery setting but over powers a living space at home. Of course I evolve the argument to include many angles for you to muse over. Consider your expression and consider your audience too. If the line is too fine maybe add some sketchiness or Gaussian blur or splatter or something. There is a vibe, a chord, find it, use it.

Am I an expert, no. This blog is to say what's on my art mind as I am going through the motions myself. If you can glean a little or if something sparks in you, then my work is done.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

aug(de)mented media realities, the sequel

If you are a fine art artist like me, that is an artist who puts out what he thinks is fine art, then you are probably wondering if inkjet prints stack up to other media that resembles it. Of course inkjet prints are their own media with their own character. It is like silk screen kind of sort of but not really. The inkjet way of putting down ink is a fine squirt, squirt, squirt. It is very controlled and precise, even and flat. Can you imagine 1000 tiny cans of spray paint on a stick and simultaneous control of each. If you can approach photo quality that is wonderful or the flat masking quality of silk screen. Anything in between you notice the fine spray effect. Not really sharp edges are dithered and.......ooh I'm too close.........I'll step back.......OK, it's not that bad. Rno, quit trying to make inkjet like other media, duh!

One thing I have enjoyed is drawing on a black page. I've used one of those white gel pens. It's not as clean as scratchboard but good enough for what I do. I wish I could find white inkjet ink. I would probably have to dedicate a printer just for that. I have a series of designs that printing white on black would be the bomb. Yes, I can print a white design on a black background but the white is the bare page and the black is printed one line at a time. Often if the printer setting is not right, you will see the print-head tracks across the page. The color looks like bands not solid color and uses lots of ink to cover the page. And if it don't look right the first time we got to try it again. I do do small test prints to see if I got it right, usually after I've made a few efforts amiss.

The tried and true method goes like this. See what hardware and software are used by some artist with bragging rights still intact. Repeat their results before you wonder off to experiment. I got an XP computer to feed the printer because the tools are there. I also can switch over to Linux if I need/want to.

Step two in the tried and true method is to apply ICC profiles. ICC profiles do a few things. They match the printer specs to a brand paper specs for the best outcome. There are ICC profiles for higher end photo printers and better papers. Other printers, well, good luck. If it will go through my printer I'll try it and note my results.

Step three is the costly one. It involves matching the PC monitor display to the printers output. This means what you see on your screen is what the print will look like. This is called calibrating. They have hardware for that. If you are a perfectionist, it will cost you a few bucks and some hours of learning to apply ICC profiles and calibrations. Get close to somebody who knows and tap their brain.

Anyway I spilled my DNA onto the printer while printing a photo of myself. The clone was perfect except he disappeared when viewed from the side, unlike Alfred Hitchcock. duh duh duh duh!

Friday, October 19, 2012

aug(de)mented media realities, further adventures

aarrgghh!! and that's not my final word! Let me calm down. You know the artist must do what he/she does. Paint, cut, sew, photog, dance, for me it's draw on the PC then print. Do you think this stuff is easy? Does the machine really do all the work? HA! Then double HA! and aarrgghh to boot!

Ok we got a regular all in one HP printer. Those little ink cartridges go fast and the rubber gripping rollers in the paper feeder do too. The most popular throw away hell you can't fix it either products on the market are microwave ovens and desktop printers. There is not enough wrong with the HP printer to pitch it but it is nearing EOL. My Epson is my workhorse these days, that thing will print on a peanut-butter sandwich (ooh, don't make me clean that!) I've bought a continuous ink supply for it. Because being the artist and printing things with total ink coverage on a page, the little standard ink cartridges just don't cut it.

So what's the beef that's turning me to jerky? Software is the matter and being the Open Source guy that I am, I'm not finding ease. First printer drivers from the printer manufactures are usually MS Windows compatible. If they have a Linux version, it was produced under great pressure from a non-lucrative marketing sector. Yes and thankyou, it is a blessing and a favor. Then the standard Linux developed printer system is modular, complex and pieces are missing to make it a no brainier. Yeah, there is Fooprint and CUPS. Show me one interface to cover over all the various elements that make printing work, let me push the print button.

In MS Windows you have your drivers and the various applications that guide you through printing, mostly desktop photo formats. The arts apps like Adobe this and Adobe that probably do fine. Heck, GIMP and Inkscape do fine in MS XP. I do admit, you have to hammer the MS print app to fool it into printing custom sizes. In Linux the communication is not so clear with the printer. This depends on the printer. My HP did have a Linux driver, but the Epson, eh eh! There is one for some models but not for mine. So if you really need "that printer", do your through homework. The Linux printing system covers many generic printer functions across the board. There are quirks that are brand specific that this general print system can't deal with. The biggest is ink supply monitoring. My Epson has two black ink carts, If one goes down the printer goes down, even if the other cart is full. Refilling and resetting is an arcane science. Your clothes will look like you are painting instead of printing.

My most secret weapon to printing? Write down what you did on a successful print run. Computers are good at repeating processes. Tweaking and adjusting all the time will corrode your memory, so write the good ones down. As usual I didn't divulge any useful or useless information, but if you find some enlightenment, it's probably you. Your humble Linuxville guide is but the paper between the rollers of life and an inkjet squirt (that's so giclee!).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

aug(de)mented media realities

It is kind of crazy how certain appliances are defined by their use. The TV is a group appliance and the PC is a personal device. If you merge the two together, you cause conflict in the home if the personal use overlaps sharing use too much. I've talked about this before. My CD player bit the dust and in the meantime I took an extra PC and hooked it up to the living-room TV. It is not a great solution, we had to do some adjusting.

TV is a shared device and simple to use. The PC requires some savvy. There are still the less savvy among us. Right now I do all the media playing on the TV-PC, till we get a standalone player. So I don't do any Internet stuff on the TV, in fact I don't even have a net connection. I want to keep the sharing use of the TV alive and well (happy wife as well). This means all on the TV's PC is from the jump drive, hard drive or DVD player. My daughter has a multimedia laptop with a remote, that's sweet. I'm looking at Bluetooth control, hmmmmmmm!

Anyway my PC's video card has a S-video output jack and a RCA video output jack. Both work OK, putting out a signal to the TV. The TV has assorted video input jacks. The problem is that the neither the S-video nor the RCA jacks put out an audio signal. I use external speakers from the PC's sound card. The sound input jacks on the TV are RCA plugs, the PC's sound jacks are smaller headphone type. There is no way to get the sound from the PC sound card to the TV inputs, thus I can't control the sound via the TV remote when using the PC media input. Whoooooah!

So when the TV is receiving broadcast, the remote does its job. When the PC is the source, the TV is just a monitor for the PC. I really hate using adapters but I hope one exists or at least a Bluetooth controller solution. And yes, it is a head banger to use a mouse and keyboard in the living-room. Wireless would be nice. In my house wireless messes up the TV signal on some stations.

Now, what do I gain by this merger? Not only can I play the usual DVD and CD recorded movies, but what I can't do with CD players is play stuff I put on the PC's hard drive like slide shows. My art portfolio looks good on the TV, as does the array of other artist works I enjoy. All the shared media functions of the PC are now on the TV too, not just broadcast TV and DVD movies.

On the PC I use a app called Moovida which used to be Elisa Media Player. It simplifies playing all the various media stored or channeled through the PC. This is so you don't have to use separate apps for each type of media.  Yeah I'm one of those who doesn't like paying to have cable TV. I can bring content of my own choosing into the shared TV appliance.

I'm working out the kinks in this concept. I haven't heard anything exceptionally good about a TV receiver card in a Linux PC and a large monitor. lnfo and opportunity have not converged in my presence yet. And the PC still hasn't shaken it's "personal" stigma to where it is the sole media player in a shared living-room or its "savvy person" operation. But hey, I flick a light switch, the wife says I'm a hacker, go figure!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

point-n-clik, point-n-slow down

Man we are always in a hurry. We even think if you can do something fast, you are better than a slower person. Point-n-clik, point-n-clik, point and slow down. Smell the coffee, read the instructions, practice a little before you dive head first. WHY? Because the head gets hit first and when that head goes, you'll flop around like a mackerel for a minute then expire also. Take time to learn stuff at a slow pace, then move up to your speed. Hey, what brought this on?

I downloaded an audio bible off the net in mp3 format. I can play them on the standard audio player just fine. Only the speed of the speech is a little fast. You know what we think of fast talking salesmen, what you trying to pull dude?
I have a another app called VLC media player. I use it mostly to play videos, it will play audio files as well. I just discovered you can add controls to the control bar. One set is to control the speed of audio playback. I slow down the fast talking bible reading to a speed my mind can process. Man, just like talking to myself. Slowed down just a pinch, now I can hear every word. Don't have this problem with videos.
VLC which stands for Video Lan Controller or something, is complex but makes itself simple if you take the time to learn and tweak.

I also just scanned in another sketchbook into my laptop. What a blast to review my sketches and start a new round of idea flows. I use a Google app called Picasa and a native Ubuntu app called gThumb. They show the picture files in icon form for browsing, a double clik blows them up, etc. I'm trying to appreciate the native apps more and more. OOh! Time is getting away from me, gotta go! Later!!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

limitations help you bust out

I don't really have a working philosophy but go with what you know saves the day many many times. It does get uninteresting after a while and at times seems stagnant. I bought a Epson Workforce 1100 printer. It has limitations like only 4 ink colors (magenta, cyan, yellow and black) and for a wide format printer will print 13 inches wide. For thrice the bucks I could have bought 24 inches wide. The problem is always what you want to do vs what you can do with what you got. Painters can paint a big canvas, say 30 x 40 inches, I'm stuck with 13 inches x 19 inches. No, wait, the printer can print 44 inches long. So if I divy the drawing up into 13 inch bands I can do 39 by 40 real easy, hmmmmmmm! What limitations?

Oh, wait again, you know when I print a couple of long pictures my ink is near gone. There are refillable cartridges that allow you to buy and use bulk ink which is a lot cheaper. The thing I realize is that the artist makes his own tools. I try not to void a warranty by altering the product but I kind of think some products are durable enough to be throwaway when done. Ha ha, I don't cut the tag off the mattress so I'm a bit cautious. If you do a lot of printing you should look into extending your printing capability. Look up continuous ink systems and hold your drool. Now my printer will do photopaper, card stock and printer canvas. So there are less and less limitations to your creative efforts. Trying to put it all together and make it all work is an art by itself and after all we are artist. It is what we do.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Resting up a bit.

Hey folks, the Lorain Art's Council's 1st Annual Black River Art Walk was a wonderful good time. We had Latino art in the gallery, two live bands out back, a two guitar duo, and a doo-wop group, all great. We had a small but interesting array of tents and tables manned by artist and craftpersons. The live demo of paper making was loud and they had lots of laughs. We had stone carvers and wood whittlers, face painters and photographers and mixed media artists and.... you should have been there. It was small, our first and next year bigger and better. I'm too beat to think, man what a rush!

Friday, September 28, 2012

a sad day in mudville

All the signs are positive, the Art Council's gala is shaping up and I relax after a long spell of painting, moving boxes and hanging pictures. I've had my artist's laptop running for a while then the screen gets speckled, then speckled in a pattern. I reboot and it is the same and the desktop does not come up. I thought, oh man, do I have to bake the graphics card again. Some folks said you can do it again and again, I'm so skeptical. In the meantime I will wear a black armband, no. It is so depressing to lose a computer. I'll bake the graphics card again but I'm wondering if the other laptop will go down too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

the autonomous artist

As you all know I am promoting my right to exercise as a digital artist. Today I dabble, tomorrow the world!, yeah. Part of the problem of the digital artist is the connection to the world via the computer. This is why I say disconnect the connection and get some work done. OK, connection is not bad, but a lot of the time it is time consuming. Hey you, blogger, step away from the computer.

I spend time looking and perusing other artist, research material, textures, fonts and brushes, all tutorials and seeing how I am perceived on the net. NO TEXTING WHILE DRAWING!!!! You people with smart phones have it worst than I, I dare you to turn it off for peace and solitude, I dare you. Ha, separation anxiety, lol. You're addicted like me or phone busy (a phonie). If all our words and finger fussing could be put into a picture what would look like? I'm talking about diverting energy here.

 My secret weapon is a wire bound notebook and a ball-point pen. I carry them almost everywhere. I jot ideas down and review them. I even scan them into my PC so that it is easy to review them. WHY? because ideas are fleeting, but if you let them pass the eyes again and again, they become part of your script. You know you write something down forget it and later disregard it because you've moved on in your thinking. Record the idea to keep it still, then review it to nail it down. The mind thus programmed begins to work it out. You may have to put other things on hold while you attend to this idea, but eventually just swishing past ideas is not going to cut it. And I'm talking about doing art not wishing for a fancy car when you are broke. Hmmm, I wonder if........come on lets keep it real.

Having scanned my sketches into my PC also means I can use them directly. All drawing programs that have layer tools will let you put your sketch on a layer to use as a guide as you draw on another layer, like tracing on onion skin. This is cool because often the sketch has the awkward proportions your mind originally captured, that you can't seem to duplicate with applied drawing principles. Actually my methods haven't changed much from my first epiphany. I took a small sketch to work that I scanned into a file at home. I enlarged it in Autocad and plotted it out on the large plotter. My eyes were so big, it took a week to push them back in. Today I try to perfect my line quality and color and texture and such. Especially because in Autocad we dealt with lines, on todays' inkjet printers we approach photographic qualities even with drawings made in paint and vector programs.

Again as I promote Open Source Art programs, it is about the tools and the processes. GIMP, Inkscape, MyPaint, LibreCad, Blender, there are many more, are cross platform collections of FREE tools with similar to commercial software processes. The important thing is to learn the processes to get the work done, then you can obtain what ever tools you want. Neither the free nor the paid for software will do the work for you. In that aspect they are exactly the same. Ha ha and you can never be totally autonomous with folks like your Linuxville guide around aiding and abetting. So after you read this, disconnect and get back to work.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

pull the plug

Doctor I want him to live. We can't afford to keep him on life support for ever and what kind of living is that? Nurse, go ahead, pull it. There was a long silence sort of like waiting for a pot to boil. Then, thump, thump, thump.........he's alive. Now don't forget my first vision of being an artist was a guy sitting on the river bank, folding easel, paintbox and small canvas. He had this way of blocking out the world while using some subtle maneuvering to capture his impressions of the world around him.

So the disconnected workstation does have the ability to be relocated. My battery life is about an hour, I'm looking for ways to extend that and still have full power. I might have to resort to a small car battery and converter board and get one of those airport luggage two wheelers. Luke Skywalker went to a remote place to find Yoda, in his encampment there he plugged R2D2 into a portable power unit. I gotta get me one of those. You see the laptop's battery is not enough for enlightened work. I mean the screen has to be bright enough for this old man to see. Hey, look you this good when you are old like I? Not how I look, but how I see! Young people see all, old people see what they need to see. That is the way of the force.

Now let's review that vision. There's the guy dragging his shopping cart of technology around the park. He comes to a spot and cordons off the area in yellow tape. I wonder what he's up too? Maybe he's ET phoning home. I'm glad my cellphones' not that big. He could of bought an iPhone, a lot simpler and portable. Wow, there's a stool, laptop and stand, graphic tablet, cool cup, umbrella, digital cam, paper sketchpad and pens.....Wait, he booting up and.....did the sun just blink for a second? I think I will set up in my backyard, a little more privacy. When technology is both powerful and inconspicuous then I'll venture into the wild.

Maybe I'll leave the power in the house and take smaller graphic recorders on the road. That seems a better idea. It seems such a waste to dedicate a PC just to artwork, PCs have such broad use. But many PCs only do word processing or accounting or control a machine or run a server fetching email and blocking intruders. To dedicate one to the purpose at hand or a particular activity is not unreasonable, even if it can do more. A computer as a light switch, for a whole building, still a light switch.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

More on the disconnected workstation

Location, location, location, it makes a difference. We have a spare room in the upper parts of the château. Mostly used for miscellaneous furniture storage  but it does have a ceiling fan and a round table. That's where I set up. The other room has PC parts and art supplies, a cluttered mess. The new room is a long way from the network cable, is quiet and well lit. It is kind of lending to a more open approach to working. Me, I can blog anywhere but to do art requires concentration and being free from distraction and stuff I have to do. Disconnect and shut out the world for a little while.

My am having fun exploring what the tablet feels like and what the different functions of GIMP, Inkscape and MyPaint are. I draw lines and squiggles and shapes. I can think of what kinds of things I might attempt. And I am testing out tutorials. There are some crucial lessons like layers and shaping things by light-n-shadow instead of outlines. Also how to approach the same image as a raster or pixel drawing and a vector drawing. Not that I would become an expert, but find a preference. Vector drawing is like CAD but you can do so much more. Still good old drawing and painting are skills much to be desired.

I heard a video by Scott Ligon of the Cleveland Institute of Art. He said the thing that the PC was best at is bringing different art elements together, synthesis. So I am considering what elements I know, what I want to learn/explore and how to merge them in some projects. I remember at a gallery function a guest ask me what I do. I told him computer art, he said that could be anything. He was right but as an artist I can only use what I know, a subset of all the stuff a computer can do. So I really don't know what the outcomes might be, I am working it out as I learn. I do have to tell people I am a drafter, an instrument drawer, not a freehand drawer. It's not a flaw, it's a feature and I use it well. Some folk clump all artist under the big  "A" title, I'll let you make them straight.

The disconnected workstation is fine. Just installed a virtual machine of XP so that I can run Google Sketchup. It does run in Wine on Linux but is a little unsure about GL graphic libraries. It works then it doesn't work. Found I didn't need Unetbootin, Mint XFCE comes with ImageWriter which does the same thing, format a USB drive and install an ISO image. The cool thing is having a place to go and a setup that is familiar, ready to do stuff you are ready to do.

I did it ya see, and I'm glad I did it!

The other laptop is now the artist workstation. I downloaded Mint 13 XFCE but I couldn't burn it to DVD because I didn't have any. After tearing out the hair I don't have, I downloaded a little program called "uNetbootin". It's cool, allows you to format a flash drive and install a bootable iso image on it. So I did it and I'm glad. Popped the flash drive into the USB slot and rebooted the computer. Of course the PC needs to see the flash drive in the boot table to boot it. It did and it did boot. BAM, Mint 13 XFCE was running in RAM, I hit the install icon and away it went. You know an OS on a flash is faster than on a spinning CD or hard drive. I smell possibilities here. I am still tweak'n and installing files and art tools, looking  good. XFCE desktop is not as glamorous as KDE or Gnome but is simple and functional. XFCE gets out of the way so that more resources are available for the programs.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

disconnection notice

Usually when artists do their work or practice they do so away from the hustle and bustle of daily cares. Enter the digital artist whose PC might be set up in the dining room. Oh wait I got a laptop, I can go anywhere and work. I got to check my email first and maybe see what the homey's are doing vis Facebook, and.............

I have two almost identical laptops. The one has all my stuff on it plus Internet and wireless. I do spend a lot of time blogging, reading and vid viewing. The other laptop is the spare and I am reluctant to beef it the same as I have the main one. Do I really need two laptops, no, but wait a minute, what if..................

I could put the minimum 1gig RAM in the main laptop. I seem to use it to communicate more that do art. In the other I could have 4 gig for graphics and dedicate it to art work. Yeah I do use the internet for art work, but I have to admit I would probably get more work done if I didn't. If I was using acrylic paints on canvas, no internet. Why do I need internet to do PC art?. It is weird to think that a PC will work without the internet, to some that is unthinkable, even impractical. Relax, my laptop has a net connection so if I need to I can plug in. I was thinking of removing the wireless card. Now no one can probe-n-find my PC on any network. I won't be fishing around the internet when I could be working.........reasons you see.

I can download what I need beforehand or load a jump drive, then go anywhere and work in isolation, yes.....I need to trust my own thought and processes.

I like all the bells and whistles on my main PC. On my artist laptop I want a less resource greedy operating system and more memory for graphics. With Linux I can do this. My main laptop has Mint 13 and it is beefy. The performance is not bad at all and as I am not a gamer, I am not going to fry anything. I think I will put the 4 gig in the spare machine and install Mint XFCE as a lighter resource desktop. This machine will be the graphics workstation. Not having remote internet means a little extra planning but I could get more outcome out of my time on the machine.

What brought this on, well when you get hooked socially, you share openly. Artist a great deal of the time don't want to show off the process, the work in progress till the project is done. The internet sort of bends the rules. Disconnecting brings the rules back into play. Security is a big word, you can't probe what you can't find. The most secure PC is severed from the net. Control your IT and you control your IP. IT= Internet Tech, IP=Intellectual Property. You think about it, we are afraid of connection but disconnection is even more traumatic.

BUT in all my purpose is to set up a work habit. When I approach this isolated machine it is for art work, it is set for art work. I guess down the road I can get a smart-phone or a netbook for the social stuff and a power crazed laptop for a workstation.

it's all in your wrist

Us humans are something else. As creative beings we dumb down how the mechanics of the process is explained in a kind of humility. Artists run in the family and I don't know where the genes for art came from. In my book there is genetic potential or probability and environmental happenstance and some kind of inner drive. Copy that, express that, "Honey, we don't mark on the walls in this house!" "Dear, we better get him some paper and crayons." Of course they do so but they don't put the paper on the walls where he likes to draw. In a coloringbook, scattered pages on the floor or a proper desk or table. You got to control the energy to make a mark.

Control from the mind to the hand. Why some folks can draw what they see, some see it but are denied the ability to draw it. No we all don't have the right combination of stuff. Drawing can be learned to a point. You can learn the mechanics and stir up a motive force. In the end either you have it or you don't and that is in degrees.

We are taught that the mind is everything, but the brain is not the whole mind. The whole network of nerves from the clump in your head to stub sensors in the tips of your toes are also the mind. Muscles have memories. Emotions are imprinted in our character and motions are imprinted in our muscle memory. A boxer's range and speed of motion is all visible, his trainer hones and sharpen those skills. Harder it is to train the motive force that makes him breach his opponent's sphere and retract into defense ready to strike again. Reaching a little further, a little faster and control, timely strikes, timely withdraws.

The artist can learn all the tools, but what is needed is the muscle memory in the hands and wrist. Drawing a circle over and over till it's second nature. I have problems drawing the human figure because I have not practiced that. I can draw an electrical circuit in a second, that my muscle memory knows well. I can draw a straight line and a perpendicular one too. I know drafting, freehand drawing is a different matter. This new physical workout craze is on spot, where they vary the exercises so they are not routine. You blast muscles from many different angles. If you are a computer artist, go take a freehand drawing class or a drafting class. The motive force is the same but the reasons and procedures will give you muscle memories you didn't think you had.  Then when you hone in, your skill set is wide yet focused because what you practiced your body remembers. It is now at your command.

Every line is important when you draw but not for the finished piece. I watched many artist working. I think they put too much effort into their work and the final piece looks simple compared to how much work goes in. Why not just start drawing the final piece. I have done stuff where I drew a line and that was the finished work. I always wanted to improve upon it. In the process of the draw, many lines shape both the idea and the form. When they are solid, then lines are taken away or covered over. Guide lines, sketches, scratch efforts are all the way we think, work it out. We draw upon our muscle memory to shape what we see. Just think, if we did this on paper how many miles of lines we draw. On the computer it less messy and wasteful of materials. I want to tell people, the computer is not that big a shortcut in the art process. Actually you have a very wide pallet of resources and techniques, you can't do them all, just what you know. The process is the same when you apply what you know, that is what your mind sees and your muscles remember being triggered by the motive force. Tell your friends, "it's all in the wrist, or art runs in the family".

Monday, September 03, 2012

release the artist, let go

No, not let loose the wildness. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that. Unless a school arts program took that away. Well get it back, then put it away for later. Wildness is a fundamental part of play and discovery. Ask any kid. Come on who turns out to be the better kid. The one whom mom tells "stop that!" or the one whom mom yells "You be careful!". Yeah, yeah, a little of both. But you get my drift, think about what you got and where you are. And I am talking about doing art.

Mom and dad see you scribbling and think 'ooh we got a bidding artist!'. They do back-flips buying you the best tools money can buy. Or you discover it yourself and you hound them for months, 'can I please have some software to do this, I'm getting good?' Hey there might be all kinds of compliance here I don't know, but think about it. You just are working up a lather and you want the top shelf product to make you like the "professionals". UH UH! Art software is like the football jersey of your favorite team. You can rah rah all you want, but until you play yourself, you'll never fill that jersey in reality.

Enough with mind bending, snap out of it!! Open source art apps are the way to go. You can get your feet wet or drink the ocean, your choice and if you find it's not your cup of tea, you delete it off your PC. No cash to buy, no reselling to recoup, no embarrassing odor from whining. I got to get what the pros use because, because, because. "Professional" is a tag line to sell a product. If enough of you buy the product, it becomes true. Suppose you look at the tools in the product. Does the pay to play draw lines, yes. Does the Open Source app draw lines, yes. Can you distinguish which program drew the line after the line is drawn, no! Yeah it's a bit much but I've gone from bending to warping your mind. It's the tools not the pedigree.

On "My Computer" is this stuff, and I remind you I'm running Mint 13 (Maya) Linux. (zero cost!)
 This is the new GIMP 2.8 in single window mode. Does photo editing, drawing and painting. (zero cost!)
 This is the new GIMP 2.8 in multi window mode. (did I say zero.........?)
 This is Inkscape, does vector drawing very well. It is my favorite app. (zero cost)
 This is MyPaint and it handles painting. You can paint if you have the real media skills. I play and I learn. I do like abstract art. (Zero cost)
   This one is Libre Draw of the Libre Office suite. Don't use it much but it is there. (zero cost)
All these softwares come in MS Windows, Mac and Linux versions, there is no excuse, download them, install them, start using them today.

Well, using a mouse works good with Inkscape and Libre Draw. For GIMP and MyPaint, lose the mouse, get a drawing tablet. Go cheap to start, I have an old Wacom, it works just fine. As my skills improve I will consider an upgrade. OK, go buy all the top shelf stuff. But if you wind up a too busy to draw Insurance Salesman with 4 kids, a trophy wife and a lap dog, I warned you. All the above software is zero cost, but if you want to support it, you can donate. Remember to check the tools and set aside the "professional" tag till later. Also get a drawing tablet. Then play like crazy, use online tutorials and/or find a tutor. I like a four door but a two door is OK! Hey would I steer you wrong? Bear with me, one more pun. Be sure to FLOSS every day, Free Linux and Open Source Software is here and is guaranteed by me your Linuxville Guide or you'll return to your regular software kicking and screaming.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

artist of the digital realms

Today I downloaded a series of videos by Scott Ligon@MOCA Cleveland. Very interesting lectures. For a guy like me not school trained to peak in on this is cool. Why I say this, because the bucks involved to go to school, and the bucks involved in getting the software he knows and loves and uses, especially the industry standard Photoshop. Ultimately it about the tools themselves and not the brandname. You can have assess to whatever tools are available to you. BUT, the "working artist" are usually trained in Photoshop. This helps when you have to collaborate, share files, or move to a new company using the same software.

If you are not in the above professional loop or do not need the proware, or want to be well versed in many different software or are just starting out, use GIMP! Now, let me turn this around. If you are starting out use GIMP. Why, same or similar tools, zero cost. As you grow in your skills, for sure you will want the pro tools, or maybe not. MyPaint is wonderful too.

I am an Inkscape user, which is sort of like Adobe Illustrator. I like vector drawing because it is close to the CAD work I have used for years. Mostly you use a mouse but I guess you can get use to using a pen. For me using a pen is awkward. My Wacom Graphire 2 (man is that old) gave me a lot of issues. It was too small, as big as a mouse pad and the active area is small. Then on the laptop I had at the time it was jittery on the screen. On my newer laptop the display is solid.I solved the size problem by placing the digital tablet in an old laptop display lid. I used foamboard to fill in the sides and match the surface height. A clear sheet of flexible plastic makes the surface smooth. It is more comfortable to hold and pleasant to use. Maybe I will invest in an updated tablet.

Drawing vectors with a mouse is one way to draw, with a pen on a tablet is different. This is like using a pencil, you must really draw freehand. I have never been a good freehand drawer. The first thing I get is the blank page syndrome. Every artist gets this because you ain't been trained yet. SO, the next thing you must do is play like crazy, see what types of lines you can make. Practice drawing lines and shapes while you find a project you can work at. This will focus your play into skills. Video and pdf tutorials are great for freelance learners. Now you have something to draw, can you see it? draw it!

I noticed most programs use keyboard shortcuts, make a list, even incorporate them into a desktop screen so you can peak at them. I am thinking of a mini remote USB keyboard to mount on my tablet contraption so I won't have to reach for the laptop.

Now when doing vector drawing, it is one way of thinking. To do the same in raster or pixel drawing, there is another way. You have to learn how to apply the principles of art according to the kind of drawing. I went from pen-n-ink drafting to CAD with little trouble, then to vector drawing with no problem. Not having good freehand drawing skills is slowing my graphic tablet learning. I need to work at the concept, the muscle memory or hand-eye coordination thing and the workflow or procedures. In all I recommend Open Source Software artist tools to start.

Monday, August 27, 2012

click'n and screaming

Damn those quirks! You know when you are typing or mousing and your thumb inadvertently touches the touch pad. The cursor veers off to another place and the text you are typing along with it. The solution, tape your thumb to your index finger!!
There is a setting on this PC that shuts the touch pad down when a PS/2 mouse is plugged in, what? this laptop has no PS/2 ports, it's USB.

Ran into another quirk, did some drawings in Inkscape on one computer, copied to jump drive, then used Inkscape on another computer to work the same file. The first PC was Linux with a 1920x1200 screen, the other was XP with 1024x768. Man the picture was scrambled and I had to sort it out. When I ungrouped it the text flew off into the margins!?! Strange strange.

Speaking of strange, my vintage Wacom Graphire 2 graphic tablet is rarely used. I can't get a handle in it. Ooh, you need a new one. Wait, it still works and I'm not that good with it. What's wrong with it? It's too small, like holding a pad of note paper. On the table it is too thick, on the lap it is too small. Not the drawing area, the outside of it. I found the lid of an old laptop with the LCD removed from it. I placed the little Wacom in the middle of it. Had to do some cutting to make it fit flat. Then I took foam board and filled in either side to the height of the surface of the tablet. Finally I covered the whole top with a sheet of thin plastic. The drawing area is still 3.5 x 5 but the surrounding area is now 8 x 13. I now have room to rest my hand on the surface and I can sweep across the surface not worrying about edges. Hey, a little swashbuckling goes a long way, you know.

Your in a room with a few people and you are trying to not be distracting. You turn on the laptop and the built-in speakers beeps, burps and sings. I took an old cutoff headphone plug, stick it in the jack during boot up. It is quiet. I think I'll sell it with a fob, quiet, cool, bling!!

Laptop is still running great, no video mishaps, solid, stable.
Mint is great, I am going to try the Gnome desktop to see if they improved it, but no rush. Ooh, last quirk, a Linux and Open Source Software user in a sea of XP and Win7. They expect MS, it doesn't compute that Linux and Open Source is viable and free too. There are cross-use issues but in the worries. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

down the road apace heels a click'n

Well folks as I said before I was making some changes amid some turbulence. The laptop flop and Ubuntu 12.04 glitches. So here is an update as to where we are at today, even as we speak, err type. Baking the laptop's removable video cards worked, I am still stunned and not happy-danced out yet. Don't try this at home, at least not in an oven used for food. Be cautious and a little leery, it's OK. I want to buy a small oven for art projects anyway, but will have to see if I can get 386 degrees out of a small unit. What about an easy bake oven? LOL! ok, I'll stop.

Then I tried to install XP Pro on the spare laptop, twice I got the BSOD (blue screen of death) during the install. The little sticker that says this unit is designed for Windows XP is iffy. So now Mint 13 (Maya) Linux is on both laptops. The one that I mostly use has 4 gig of RAM so I installed Virtualbox which allows me to run XP as a virtual system inside of Linux. What a laugh to run XP in a window and control it as an application. It runs well so far. I use XP to run Google Sketchup. This worked better than running Sketchup in WINE ( a MS Windows simulator for Linux), which worked till it couldn't find the GL graphics libraries, dang, they are right there!. XP is still good if you need it.

So the laptop displays look solid and stable. Mint is the bomb and real MS WinXP in a window works fine too. Now I am going to tell you the ugly truth. Trouble is exciting, the fixing, the fussing, the explaining, the chest thumping..........getting back to work is kind of flat. Yeah, I'm flat and happy.

Been pushing the pen a lot lately, I am half way through another notebook. I need to push the mouse to get some of the ideas into digital form. My biggest hurdle comes from not having enough ink in my printer. There are 3 colors and 2 blacks. If one of the cartridges are out the printer shuts down. Wouldn't you know it, one black cartridge is out. Why two if one out shuts printing down? You'd think one big honking black cartridge rather than two small ones would suffice and a switch to switch to black ink I have to tell them everything!?! Oh, I should have bought a printer with both bells and whistles. At the time bells were enough. Let that be a lesson to you and me. See ya.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

resurrecting an old laptop

You thought I was going to post another post about reviving a PC with Linux, didn't you? Actually it's already a Linux PC, lol. Let me tell the whole story.

A friend gave me two Dell M90 laptop, a good one and one for spare parts. Recently the good one's video card started displaying abstract art. Now I got two laptops in the same state. I did a Google search for replacements and fixes. In a forum some were saying about baking the video cards. Theory is that day to day stress causes micro fractures in the solder joints, enough to cause functional problems. The M90 are known for heat related problems, now this too. I read the same on other forums and watched a few videos on the procedure. They used the ovens in their kitchens but I was worried about gases and fumes of solder materials in my food oven. I used a oven not used for food at the art gallery. Well needless to say it all worked, I now have two working laptops. So I won't lay it all out but if you Google you'll find it.

My laptop is back and I have a working spare. Can you beat that? If you have moving parts, bang it on the side, if not bake it!! I can hardly believe it's working, but it is.

Monday, August 20, 2012

the gathering

We got a local PC user's group and it is not bad. Mostly Microsoft users. They tried to stir interest in a Linux user's group, there is a diff that cramps things.

In the Microsoft oriented group, it is about applications like Office and Photoshop, Outlook, how to do things on the Microsoft platform. Not about the OS it self. MS does not have to be explained, it is in common use. It is unsaid but applications or programs are for doing stuff that "users do".

With Linux on the other hand, every thing has to be explained, the OS and the applications and what you can and can not do and what to expect. Linux, OH what's that? What can you do with that?, Can you use Microsoft programs with that? That from people who have no clue. Linux has been primarily a server OS so you get a glut of server administrators. They talk about various servers and databases, virtual devices, and hooking into Microsoft networks with Samba and the command line. There are few to none casual average semi-savvy users in the Linux clutch.  You won't get a class in using GIMP because everybody uses Photoshop in MS Windows, what's GIMP. The casual user is strangely absent from Linux user's groups. There are few casual users. In the usual Linux group, it's all about the OS. The only way to get average semi-savvy Linux users is through the promotion of Open Source Software. Then you get a mix of MS PC, Mac and Linux users because the softwares are available for all three platforms. For Linux only users the care and feeding is not there similarly to MS PCs and Apple platforms.

The point of groups is to pool experience and get help and the best use out of your hack of choice.

OK, on the home front, my two Dell M90 laptops share a common plight, the graphic cards displays abstract art. My faithful desktop a Dell Precision 380 is now bearing the brunt of my daily computing. I did have a problem downloading YouTube videos. I tried a couple of different downloaders that work in Firefox web browser to no avail and a YouTube client application. All delivered a file with '0' data in it. So I went to Firefox, Google search and typed in my problem. In one forum someone mentioned going into Firefox preferences and erasing the cookies for Google. I just erased all the cookies and BAM!, ZOWIE! it worked, I now can download YouTube videos. This is the kind of help you could get in a user group. You couldn't find this in a user manual (besides, Linux doesn't have a manual, but there are a lot of good Linux books. I don't read many books of late because of YouTube videos on GIMP, Inkscape and Sketchup and other stuff like John Coltrane and Black history.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

heads up display

OK the worst things in the world is to have a rose colored heads=up=display and deer in the headlights, or flying bird crap or worst yet hit a low flying bird. The first thing is not knowing the reasons, the second thing is bad judgment, the last is dang I feel sorry I couldn't have done anything different. All my previous ranting about Ubuntu 12.04 was only half true. I still got way too many internal error messages, but the rest was hardware related. My laptop's graphics card went into displaying abstract art. I do have two Dell M90s', both in the same state. I even swapped the graphics cards after intensive surgery and the card from the other M90 was worse than the card I was using. Needless to say I am now in morning, dressed in black and about to go out into the yard, chop weeds and figure out how to get another laptop.

Hey, it's another day in the life of a Linux user. I'm a psychotic mess, LOL. When my main PC goes down I shutter at the thought of going back to XP. Good thing a Linux install is a no brainer (for me!). First I run something called Gparted and set up the hard drives. I could also go straight into the Live-CD version of the Linux distro I'm going to install. It gives you a chance to repartition and reformat. You can format a drive to the Microsoft system standard too. This makes Gparted or the Live-CD version of Linux a handy tool for operating system installation. This is important because Microsoft doesn't give you a installation CD unless you buy it and PC manufactures usually put a rescue/backup partition on the hard drive of the PC they sell instead of giving you a separate CD with Microsoft OS on it. So to get the CD is gold. Usually there is a chrome sticker on the system box. You can go into a PC store and have them reinstall your operating if it is hosed or retrieve it from the rescue partition if it exists. Not cool if the hard drive itself breaks. I wonder if the MS CD has hard drive tools on it, probably not, but up to the Win98 days it did.

Linux is great in that the popular versions for popular use all work the same. You buy a CD/DVD or download off the internet for free. You burn the downloaded file onto a blank CD/DVD. Then you pop it in the CD/DVD drive. If it is a live-cd version it will boot-n-run off the CD. You can check it out pretty good and decide if you want to install it. While it is running off the CD, you click the install icon and the procedure goes from there. When it is installed you go about making sure your video drivers are good, the sound works and the internet works, plus if it plays YouTube videos OK, set up email. Then when you have internet go to the app that adds programs from the Linux repository. You are ready to go. And I just changed my desktop from Ubuntu 12.04 to Mint 13 Maya with the Cinnamon desktop. Looks great and no internal error messages. AND NOW a Linux commercial............

There you are on the edge of an icy plateau. You eye to the left and to the right, not a soul in sight and the crisp air excites your mind with what's to come. You hear a sound behind you, turn slightly to realize there is a multitude of ones like you and you hope the heck that someone doesn't push you off before you are ready. Just your luck someone jumps first and the cascade begins. It comes to your turn and you leap thinking it's a good thing we aren't lemmings. As you speed past the rocks and ice you realize it's no worst than other places and slash........the waters fine, fish abundant and penguins do fly.

Linux, no big thrill, no over kill, gets the job done and still is fun. That's my take.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ubuntu, what did you do?

I upgraded to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on this Laptop (Dell M90), it's been a little rough on the video card (Quadro FX 2500m). Unity and Gnome shell I think complicates it's working properly. Every now and then the whole screen becomes uncontrollable angular shapes. There is also the system crashes where the lights flash and the keyboard and mouse are unresponsive. Yes, I tried the regular video drivers and the Nvidia drivers, the results are the same. I only get the system error message on my desktop, but all this craziness on the laptop. I pulled a different hard drive out of another Dell M90 and loaded Mint on it. Swapping the drives on the same machine allows me to see if the install was a problem. Mint does not use Unity or Gnome 3 and the display is rock solid. I don't have the feeling of pending doom. I noticed something else, the laptop runs a little cooler, it seems Ubuntu works both the video card and the hard drive to death on this M90 laptop.

My point is this, Linux is Linux is Linux, BUT..... each development group that puts out a distribution of Linux tweaks it according to how they think it should go. When you try out a distro it may or may not perform well on your selection of hardware. won't know that until you check it out. Perhaps there are some notes in a forum or comments by other users using the similar hardware as you. I always say mileage may vary, should work fine but maybe not optimum.

So, I'm going to say the problem with Ubuntu is Unity and Gnome Shell and my Quadro FX 2500 in this laptop. The desktop (Pentium 4) only gets the system error messages. If Mint gets the nod after I test all my graphics apps, then I will put it on the desktop also. I also installed WINE so that I can run Goggle Sketchup. It is a MS platform program, if it doesn't work I will put XP on the second drive, I might do that anyway. Now don't forget Mint is based on Ubuntu but it is minus Unity and Mint has it's own tweak of Gnome 3 shell, to tell you the truth, I am happy with the Cinnamon/Mate desktop just fine.

catching up

Welcome back the Linuxville château is being renovated again. I upgraded to Ubuntu 12.04 on my laptop and desktop. It is the LTS version which is like saying this is the base line for the next series to follow.  Well..........since loading it and using it I have been greeted with internal error reports every chance it gets. That alone does a lot to erode your confidence in the software. The 'damn what now' phrase is starting to become center in my vocab. I went looking for answers, sort of but instead went over to the DistroWatch web site. The numbers did the talking as Ubuntu is no longer the top dog by a large margin. Mint OS is king by curosity , try it you will like it and jump ship. I have used Mint in the past, but rose colored Ubuntu loyalty was altering my gaze. I have installed Mint 13, the Mate/Cinnamon version and so far my complaints are about the Ubuntu I left behind. Well so what I don't have a desktop that rivals a heads up display in the movies. I need to get some work done.

Been real busy doing a mural project with local kids and real paint. I turned a spare PC into a fancy DVD player for my TV. Built a PC for a friend. Been playing with ideas pertaining to the shanty town as a form of honest architecture. We are talking quonset huts and silos and cargo containers, with various results. GIMP, will you please make a Debian package of version 2.8, it is a drag being stuck with 2.6 in the repositories. I still use Inkscape a lot and it is still wonderful.

In the Lorain Arts Council Gallery and Art Center I run into many rough patches. Everybody uses MS Office suite and Photoshop, etc. When I do stuff in Linux platform products there is not always a smooth cross over. When we are looking over each other's shoulders it is harder to help, give tips, rescue advice, etc. You really have to think about what's being used and I don't have much fresh experience on the Microsoft platform. Even when I use XP, it is simple use, not savvy use at all. I prefer Linux because it is free and it's inner workings are not a company secret. I don't have to be a trained personnel to comprehend it. But having said all that I use Linux simply also. If I could fix it I'd be making money doing that and would have no time to do art. You have limit the kind of knowledge you know or folks will steal your time helping them (usually for free!). Most never heard of Open Source, hey that's what I use and it works...........for me!

I have been using Google's Sketchup the free version. It is the most wonderful 3d program. On the Linux platform you need WINE to run it. It works OK but on my laptop in Ubuntu it has been touchy. It can't find the graphics drivers, then the GL extensions, then..............I am not going to reinstall it just to use it, would rather dual boot with XP and not be bothered. We will see how Mint handles all this.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

interesting views

I ran across a couple of interesting thought lines. The first concerns the word 'jazz' and the second is about 'art'. Jazz and it's history have not been one of glory. I think about 'The Color Purple" and "Roots" and "The Entertainer" and how jazz was portrayed in a not so proper life-style light. Minstrel shows, night clubs, bars, etc were all the venue and the fodder for gregarious displays of loose behavior. Some folks want to change the name to Black American Music or BAM for short. Because Jazz had it's start with Black folks and is fading away by means of other cultures embracing, redefining, watering down, defusing, blending and bending. Don't give me the culture/time flux and change argument. Or the other culture playing it is great appreciation argument. What happens when the forces that created and sustained the art, no longer exist or is important? It could die!

The other question is about the definition of the word 'art' in the context of culture, Black culture in particular. Most African languages didn't even have a word or concept to match what the Euro understanding of art is and has become. We have a name for everything, jazz and art are so open ended, leaves a lot to question and abuse. I did run across an Igbo word "Nka". Now the Igbo are from the West African area associated with the Slave Coast. Nka has more to do with the creation action than with the thing created and has spiritual connotations. But as with all words, especially foreign to us, it is better understood and explained by a native speaker. It is worth exploring to get the true deal.

We like to pigeonhole stuff so that we can communicate with others in the same society and have at least similar understanding. In the case of Black cultural descriptions, being defined by others and having to live with those descriptions leaves a lot to be desired. It's like when you say classical music, the Mozart name comes to mind. We here in the Euro cultured USA think that is normal. African American classical music would be Jellyroll, Ellington or Coltrane, we have to use the 'jazz' word and add from the 30's, 40's or 60's. This is on going, there will be more discussions about the negative connotations vs the accepted music institutionalized in American culture.

I do Black American art, African Diaspora art, Pan-African art, etc; because to just do art in and of itself or for itself is meaningless to me. But you, you won't know what that is until I show you. Here are a couple.
 This one has to do with past and present Black folks communing with more ancient ancestors.
This one has to do with memory discs scattered across time and nations being gathered to display a pattern of remembrance and present awareness.

It is easier to explain them than give them a title and description. Again, no ideas were harmed by this artist while using Open Source Software and a Ubuntu Linux PC.

Monday, July 02, 2012

rolling some more

PC owning is kind of funny. What happens is that you get used to what it can do, want more, buy a new PC, and if there is still life in the old one, it is hard to give away, sale or refurbish (to the new and higher standard of expectations). So what to do with an older PC (not too old).
First the scene: The component DVD player with my TV set up went down. I needed a replacement. Normally when the wife is watching girl flicks on the TV, I watch what I like on my PC. I have an extra PC and did to it all the standard stuff. Evicting dust bunnies, checking memory and disk drives, the DVD/CD drives. What? Replace a DVD player with a whole PC? Isn't that overkill? Don't get over worked up, please.

My fancy new DVD player is an entertainment center (sort of). You need firstly a TV with input jacks, a converter box of some sort if the TV doesn't have jacks, suitable cables, a PC video card with output jacks and software. Now most TVs have 4 kinds of input jacks or less. RCA jacks, S-video, HDMI, and or VGA. My TV has S-video and RCA jacks. The video card in my PC has RCA, VGA and S-video. I found a S-video cable, plugged it in and immediately got the PC desktop on the screen when I switched to the TV's aux input channel, but no sound through the TV speakers. S-video does not deliver sound. I believe the RCA connection passes sound but I heard the picture quality is less than that of the S-video connection. I use remote speakers plugged into the PC sound card, ooh stereo to boot!

So, match connectors with appropriate cables, remote speakers, basically the PC monitor is replaced by a TV. Now, software. You don't need fancy, after all you can already play media on a regular PC. An entertainment software makes it easier for the less tech savvy in your house to use it. There are several softwares for this, some are deep techno, some point and click. Do your own research, you'll see. On my Linux setup (because it's free), I use Xubuntu Linux (has a Win/Mac like desktop). Xubuntu is light weight, not fancy, not many extras, point and click. The application I use is called Moovidia, formally Elisa Multimedia Center. I also have VLC (Videolan player) just to complicate things. Keep things simple, don't automate everything, leave the dog alone.

So I turn on the TV and turn to the aux channel/boot up the PC, when the desktop appears insert disk, double click the Moovideo icon on the desktop and on the menu appears the available DVD bar. Click the bar and it plays. This does what the original disk player did. Moovideo will also play whatever audio disk is available and whatever audio and video files are stored on the hard drive. If the PC is hooked to the Internet, it is no different than any other PC. But the TV is a household shared thing so I recommend using a spare PC and dedicating it for TV use. In fact I didn't hook it up to the Internet. I use a jump drive or burn stuff to CD/DVD. Limits are good, but what is good for you. Keep it simple.

Now the extra. You can put your photos and your artwork on your multimedia PC and play them. Slide shows, presentations with audio, etc. I download art tutorials and history documentaries off the net for viewing. I control my own content. You have just expanded the usefulness of both your TV and your PC in one whack. Again if you got Windows XP on your old PC you can do this too, just have to find the appropriate software. I use Linux so I promote it. This is about re-purposing an older/spare PC, getting more life out of it and getting over a PC doing everything. It is OK if you limit it to doing one thing, after all it is a spare. Better than a dust bunny collecting door stop, say yeah! And stand aside, your blocking the tube.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roll'n your own

Continuing with the flywheel effect, this is how you make a "but it's not as good as the latest Windows/Adobe art machine" for free or almost free. I said almost free.

I have an older desktop PC, not the most powerful. I took it all apart to clean out the dust bunnies. Then I put in at least 1 gig of RAM. WinXP does not run it's best with less (512mb), Linux runs OK, but more is better. I put in a CD player, a burner is better and a DVD combo is better yet. Don't worry if you aren't a parts collector, the local PC shop can sale you a used PC at reasonable cost (probably with XP on it already).

Hard drive should be 20 GIG minimum, most operating systems take up 4 to 8 GIG, you'll need room for personal stuff. Bigger is better (more storage space). Make sure the motherboard has sound and video built-in or you will have to have PCI cards for both. I am not a gamer so I don't worry about high on the hog video cards, an average one will do, unless you got to have it. Ethernet built-in is good else another PCI card for that. If you can get USB keyboard and mouse, they are nice but standard PS/2 will do. Get rid of your mouse with a ball, the optical mouse is better for computer art.

When it is all together you have a basic, no frills machine. If you gots XP, OK, but support for XP is getting scarce. I did mention almost free. Use XP if you have it and can deal with it. I offer Linux that comes in various styles and configurations, Ubuntu Linux in particular. Now if your PC is skinny on resources try the Xubuntu version of Ubuntu, more beefy PCs can deal with Ubuntu Standard or Kubuntu if you must. Don't look at me to explain here, get your Google search on and inquire. Yes Linux is just like XP, only different. Like but different. Linux is not Windows and will 'NOT' run Windows software natively (out the box).

OK, you got your used, pre-owned, refurbished, rebuilt from parts PC. Most people can go to the PC shop to get XP installed if they can't manage it. Linux is easy enough to install yourself if you are tech savvy. But unfamiliar stuff is awkward for first timers. PC shops can be Windows centered so you might have to inquire for knowledgeable Linux help. Find a geek if all else fails. Ubuntu is downloaded as an ISO file, burnt onto a CD. It is a "live-CD" which means you can run the system off the CD without installing on your hard drive. This is great for trying it out before installing and seeing what is included on the disk. You can't use the Ubuntu software repositories without installing Ubuntu on your hard drive. Installation is a click of an icon if the hard drive is prepared. Yeah, time to call a geek.

Now, once your operating system in installed and you have internet, you can take advantage of the free open source software (especially art stuff) on the net. For XP systems check out for the free open source stuff. For Linux, each Linux version maintains a repository of compatible software that will run that is internet accessible via an included software management utility. Synaptic is one and another is Ubuntu Software Center. Hey click the icon and you are there. Install GIMP, Inkscape and other apps if you want them. They are easy to install and remove if you don't want them. Being in a repository means they are malware-free, not trialware, not feature or time limited, the real stuff, but they are in various stages of continued development. Don't kid yourself, even off the store shelf software is like this. Yes, things get better with time after all these years.

The end result is I have an artist oriented PC that I didn't pay much more than for used hardware options, a blank CD and time to download-n-burn and install. I can do Cad, paint, draw, illustrate, edit photos, do multimedia projects for free. Now if quality is an issue, no one is stopping you from moving on to more so called pro-ware. But with free open source software, no one is stopping you from starting either. Getting to work your ideas "now" is the point. Start now, perfect and go pro later. I shouldn't suggest going pro requires commercial software, but if you are doing commercial work, using what other commercial workers are using makes you cool in the job market. I am a free-range artist so I can use what I please. So in that vein, I recommend open source art software to cut your teeth, get skills, do art stuff with low money outlay. With the quality of open source today, you may not even want or need commercial software, use it then you decide.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The flywheel effect

The flywheel effect, I know you all know it but hate to admit it, you've done it. Let me paint the vivid picture. In the TV program/movie "the A Team" was the guy Templeton "Faceman" Peck. His forte was to get into character and play it till the mission was over. That's an exaggeration but the shoe fits. For me it goes like this, I get into the art mode with an idea or a research mode with a subject and ride it out till I'm done.

OK, it's called focus but I call it the flywheel effect. The thing is once the focus is in play you can't think of much else. You wrestle and turn the idea until you get a good grip on it and make some progress with it. Then you can let it go.

I also discovered something. You know when I wanted to be an artist, I struggled for context and meaning. My cousins would draw any and everything, but I didn't like to draw like that or that much. What I saw was already done, no need for me to draw it. Their eyes were open to what was around them, me, I was not impressed. One day while watching a new home show that came on before the Saturday cartoons, I found my muse. There was a flurry of drawing that erupted from my hands. I really liked drawing houses. Of course folks around me tried to get me interested architecture as a profession. But sometimes the pressure of the potential in the hands of others kills the enthusiasms of the present, so I ignored them. Also the stars of educational opportunity refused to align themselves to meet me half way. My point is that a muse did come, I enjoyed drawing houses.

Over the years that followed, I did investigate the many areas of architecture. I enjoyed the pure design aspect but not so much the grunt of planning for a real structure or the actual building work. I liked interior design and interior decoration a lot but was more mused by the art in the space and the art of the space. This is where my interest today are. I get the most spins out of the flywheel, just like the toy spinning top that is so balanced and smooth it seems to go on forever.

I was thinking perhaps a sweet-spot presents itself in our life that allows us to use all our skills, talents, history, interest at the same time. Yeah, I'm looking for the follow your bliss kind of thing. It's kind of true. More like you prepare for opportunity if and when it comes. Are you changing your focus by the minute? Like I said in a previous post, you can't take it with you or do it all. Choose a face (wisely) and play it till the mission is over. Do what you can do, that's what I do, what I can do. The absolute strange thing about art is that we can draw the same thing and it comes out different because we are each different. Now go brush up on your skills and don't bother me, I'm chasing my muse for a while.

Oh and by the way, GIMP 2.8 is out and it is as sweet as ever, it has a single screen mode. No big deal if you have a small screen but on my wide screen, sweetness and light. I'll have to explore to see if other new features are here. Bye again.

Monday, June 04, 2012

art weapon, I got a permit for that!

Two things in life I know, you can't take it with you and you can't do it all. Time is not on your side even if you can do it real fast. Art takes time for someone to do it. Think about it, we are not blessed with Bill Murry's Groundhog Day (go watch the movie).

This is the old guy talking. If you are a younger artist you can still apply this but it hurts more. Something to do with frontal lobes, lol! Older folks can look back and regurgitate experiences especially the things they did well at. This is quite an art arsenal. You young folk will have to open your eyes to where you are at, be adventurous and experimental. You will go through many changes to find your sweet-spot. You have tendencies, taste and preferences added to your affiliation with the times. That is the things your age group seems to think about. There are a lot of patterns that effect our makeup as an artist.

I always think of art as something for the house related to the interior design or the architecture. You might have a different perspective. That perspective becomes the realm from which your art flows. Say a comic-book artist, we all know the story is way bigger than could fit in one book because they are serial adventures. The characters come to life partly in your head and mostly when ink hits the page. Or greeting cards or sci-fi spaceships and scenes. The realm extends with your efforts and becomes the source of self inspiration, you know, the what's next thing.

As you all know I advocate Open Source art tools. GIMP, Inkscape, My Paint and others. I also recommend video tutorials because other artist have this show-n-tell thing going on. There is nothing like downloading them off YouTube, watching them a few times to "get it down". Another tool is Google or Yahoo picture search. Type in a search word and peruse but don't steal. Don't look too hard, just glance and go. The mind is funny and remarkable in how it takes in and handles information. It also slices, dices and makes Julian fries. That's what happened to my pet potato Julian. Anyway, put the pictures of ideas you like in a folder and use a picture viewer to review them. Just do the slide show thing or click through them, even better with your favorite music playing in the background. That distracts part of your mind and allows stuff to slip past your attention. Or it enhances the "ambiance", makes the ideas stronger. Don't forget to get away to do nothing, rest and be disinterested. Go play golf, baseball, kick sand at the beach, be tech free. Get ready, the urges are coming, so get a notebook to record ideas, a sketchpad. I life with several wire bound notebooks. I scan them into my PC and do the peruse thing. ooh, what a rush.

This all goes into the process of an artist, the part outsiders don't see or understand. The secret life of artist would make a good book, lol.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

artist in residence

It doesn't matter the art, the process is the same. I played the conga drum, an autoharp, the saxophone (sort of), handmade flutes and whistles. I had a thumbpiano and bought and sold a vibraharp. Don't know why I had to make noise and jazz at that. I still am a jazzy player but not so much with noise anymore. There was opportunity but never the right timing. It is good to explore while you are young and impressionable, able to take instruction. Instruction means you allow a skilled someone to implant the subject matter into your mind while you submit to agonizing muscle memory and sensory training. This requires time, patience and practice. Self discovery on the other hand requires time, practice, practice and more practice. The diff is confidence derived from instructor training is more certain.

If you have a desire, it's not so bad because you season the experience with discovery and if you like it there are all kinds of self satisfaction and challenge and accomplishment. When people around you understand and support your creative drives, you develop at a good pace. If they try to realize their dreams through you, they will probably kill you and your art desire. If they have little regard, the strength of your own efforts are fraught with interruptions and redirections. I was king of the back shelf. I wondered if I would ever get to doing art. My secret has been to figure out how to do art in everything and at any time. I carried notebooks for years, jotting and sketching while caring for the preoccupations of loved ones.  If I did not do art I might have regrets to the point of radical behavior. They think I am radical anyway. Use what you have of both yourself, your skills, the materials at your disposal, the time you have.

What is the aim of your art? It comes from you, what you see, feel, think and what you are able to do. I did very little life drawing, I wish I could be better but I have more desire for decorative stuff and architecture. I have a cousin who does animals very well. He is good at that. I am sculptural and space driven. Some are focused on painting on a flat plane. What is weird is when you can't express an idea till the materials make their appearance in your sight. Or when you draw in pencil only to discover the ink pen makes the idea pop. This happened to me with printing. I was using photo paper, then I tried card stock. It was very startling and exciting.

Take the path in front of you. Traditional art is OK if you go that way. I have had a haphazard, twisted, often misdirected art path. I have learned to appropriate, to glean, to save for later and to reassign the context. Think I am goofy, try telling the sweet Mary had a little lamb story with a raspy crooked voice. Change one element in the tone of delivery, the meter of speaking or the motive of why or to whom it is spoken too. This is how ideas come, I make a note and let it set. Later I see the note in a different light. I try the same idea in a different context. Of course I'm not making spooky movies, I ask if folks can live with my art, will it have a good effect in their living space, add something. We are not wired the same way. Many can't do art or never developed their ability. I appreciate those who don't and who didn't but who appreciate art. I do art for them and for me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

artist, try being a drummer

Turned 60, been on a find myself mission since my first breath. Now I am tired of all the trying as prescribed by others. We've all been duped by the American dream. I open the garage and stare, big hole in the roof, pile of leaves beneath it, junk from previous owner and my busted car. I bought another one, have to park it in the driveway. From the gaping auto cavern I view the house, needs repair in many places. I'm not a lazy person just financially challenged, that puts a damper on things. I resigned inside from keeping up most appearances, don't wash my car or feed my lawn so I don't have to cut it every other day.

I tried to discover my African culture in college. I had no understanding, neither did my cohorts. We acquired conga drums, played and danced. Our minds were oblivious to our real condition but ponder we did, like little children. I look for my drums today, they're gone. In my mind I would pat it's skin a little each day sitting before the gaping auto cavern filled with junk and leaves. Caring not for the neighbors who make their own intrusive noises, yet mindful of the grade school on the other side. No one watching, everyone's listening, something new in the ambient noise. Pit patter pop, pit patter bop.

I just play to myself, play to the trees, to the air around me. There is a space that widens, soon the beats merge with the neighborhood sounds. I start to visualize. I meet my ego in dreams of greatness, my fear and wonder if some will complain about the noise. I think about the curious who are drawn to listen for an entertaining thrill and wonder if I am putting out enough for them, glory days. I wonder if my arms will tire or I will become bored with this whole thing. It all fades away, the beats go on for every reason and for no reason. The few on lookers walk away, he's not band quality, not showing off his skills, not speaking to us. They are right, I am trying to remember. My hands sore and warm start to remember. I can feel all the parts of rhythm, the heart, the breath, the meter, see the dancers glide and pound, the dust kicked up, the smell of stirred energy, even though it's just a squirrel and some blackbirds. I remembered my first extended play, so long we played. I peed blood afterward, thought I was hospital bound.

Drumming shakes the earth, rattles the wind and vibes the fiber in a man. It is about the wholeness, not just the flesh, that is just what you see. Dance is not a vehicle for flesh lusting, it is about a soul expressing itself the only way it can, through the body it is apart of. Drums vibe and the soul extends and animates the flesh, gives space to share a story where words are not adequate. Drumming is a great responsibility, takes training. We had to sit under a leader who assigned our parts. He was strict but compassionate with us. We had to face our egos before we could bridle them. No explaining just doing. We showed off our skill like young lions ready to lead. Skill but no endurance, no wisdom. We made the noise but had no voice.

We would have to play our part without elaboration, embellishment or passion. Play the form then listen to the playback. What is that little strange sound in the background? That's me! Once the pattern is engraved into my muscle memory then a small space is given to embellish a little then come back. If your part is to keep the time, you keep the time, if to wail away and roll, you wail and roll. You are a part, in your place, of the whole. Without you nothing is said, with you the whole is said. You play the part given until called to speak. You emerge and then submerge, in context, not straying away.

With us going through the process with no real commitment, that is we were practicing for entertainment and learning, we did poorly. Our egos were never really tamed. Our cohesive energy did merge a little, it was entertaining but far far short of being real drumming, a most serious thing. Drumming in Africa was/is an integral part of many social constructs. Tonal languages could be uttered by the drums and distant signaling for warnings and events of every sort. Drums brought people together for worship and praise and to heal and celebrate. 

The encroaching world of New World enslavement, education, religion and finance has no need of drumming except for entertainment. Their re-civilization effort to remake us in their own image in order to include us according to their understanding required us to forget our drums. They failed, it's in our soul, I remember as a young person hearing older white persons saying “black folks got natural rhythm”, many many times. This is why our keeping the beat is used against us, the infectious rhythms permeate everything in popular culture but has no substance for sustaining healthy black culture. The beats are there, the words twisted and distorted. Our serious stuff marginalized to be aired when everybody is asleep, or in night spots where people go to self-indulge. Such it has been with jazz. Rock drumming kings portrayed as wild men who still manage to keep time. In my drum troop that wild-man ego would perish, still the beat would go on. Only one complex drummer is the modern way, a multiplicity of simple drummers are African. Each playing the pattern with the potential of speaking out when needed. If all of Africa's drummers would drum on one day, the world would shake.

I don't own a dashiki or wear beads, more often than not am pressed to wear the Euro culture clothes from the local store with a sigh. Doesn't really matter, the African within is being realized. History can't lie forever about my story that was a myth-story er a mystery to me. The outer has no need to change, the inner must change. It can't be the well reading of many books or watching videos and documentaries. It can't be degrees in education though I do appreciate ones who appropriate the tools to research and tell all of us. I need to pick up my drum and play to remember. Who ponders anymore? Most fill their brain bandwidth with media voices, drugs and sleep. Using waking moments to meditate and ponder and I will add, to pat the drum, pip patter bip, pit patter bop, and remember.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the computer art delimma

Was talking to a lady about art, I take it she is a traditionalist as far as media is concerned also she worked in a music store, probably behind a computer and a stack of paper work. When I mentioned I do computer art she had that dread of work look on her face. Art and the computer did not relate in her book. I had to chuckle because as a CAD drafter I probably used the computer as much as her. What is the diff? To her the computer is a typing tool, I learned the computer as a drawing tool. Oh the stuff you can draw!! Can't type very well though.

Let's see, engineering drawing yes, web pages and desktop publishing yes, advertising art yes, video editing and office work yes, fine art, well, er, there's got to be something wrong with that. Fine art usually involves printing. Oh man, no one has problems with printing a photograph. You can do it on a desktop printer from a wallet size to a 13 x 19 inch. You can blow them up to poster size though you might loose a little quality. No one questions photographs as to whither it is an original or not. Now using the exact same concept and process on artwork scanned in, digitally altered or drawn entirely on the computer, then printed and all the stuff oozes out of peoples brain. "Does a print cost as much as the original?, Where is the original? How many did you print? (obviously to keep the value up) Can I have the original? Can I get it to match my curtains in the den? Can you believe this? What am I a decorator?

So, I'm up in my studio/computer lab and I am drawing away. What you doing honey? I come down with no evidence as to my working. I mean no smell and no mess. Can you help me fix this.........  Then I pick up a brush or an ink pen, get paint/ink on my hands and my face. Oh you're busy honey, I'll ask you later. Whether on the computer or using a brush I spritz some paint on myself to get the artist look effect. Don't tell anybody. Computer art is just not messy enough.

Now, I want you all to say it with me, "a computer is a tool." With different software you can compute, type and or draw. Some have become skilled at computing, some at typing and some at drawing, all on the same machine. The proper response to the computer artist is, "Oh I didn't know you could do that on a computer." Not "people shouldn't sit in front of a PC all day" as if they are playing video games or something. Some even think we do something else for a living, lol. I'm just doing what I am good at. And I got the nerve to show you what I've done. OOh! Would you like to purchase it, it's an original?

Monday, April 30, 2012

art, music the universal language, like mumbling!

I've listened to jazz since my teens, all the intellectual reviews about style, and texture, tone, artistry. Deep textural descriptions as if they are trying to give us the play by play from the artist's head. Then I watched brilliant ones like John Coltrane and Sun Ra and visual artist, in interviews, they are as bad as basketball players. Stumbling for words, trying to sound like normal communicating human beings. I guess if you spend so much time and energy in one form of communication you loose something in the others. I'm not knocking their brilliance or intelligence, I'm saying they struggle to put it all into words so you can comprehend what they see. Art and Jazz as universal expressions are still not like scribbling and humming. Now if you look a lot and listen a lot you can and do appreciate more than those who don't. If you play an instrument or draw, you know more. If you read music and play or learned to draw in school, you know even more. OK, I have to admit that visual artist are used to spieling to art on lookers.

My problem is and has always been getting away from the people who are expert in the daily activity language to get into the space where I can work in the art or the music. There are a lot of folk who don't see the worth in terms of time spent or the monetary rewards that are usually not immediately realized. This is a hard nut to crack, I understand why some artist use outrageous behavior to distance themselves from regular people, just to be isolated enough.

You need a space that is can-do-sive. That's where you "can do" what ever your "sive" is. I have a space at home only I can't play my disturbing music. Yeah, African music and jazz are an acquired taste but headphones have me listening for calls outside the phones or up from down stairs. TV is another neural-lier. I look at YouTube to find appropriate content without commercials and fewer Euro faces. No offense but I need the rest of a sea of positive Afri faces once in a while. Seems the broadcast of genuine African flavored broadcast media is non-existent. And African-American entertainment is very Euro flavored in the US, go figure. Not a problem if I weren't looking for my historic origins.

Anyway art and music are universal in the sense that everybody does them. It is rude to be overly particular in this world of diversity but to insist on universal embrace is criminal. Eventually all this nodding to other cultures and becoming expert in playing each other's music makes the original cultures go away. The new thing that takes its place might be a flattering imitation but the reason, motives and supporting lives that generated the original culture that produced the original music in the first place is disconnected. This is troublesome, as the wicked witch in the OZ would say, "I'm blending, I'm blending, what a world!" It might seem good, it's probably bad and it's definitely ugly. This is why artist and musicians strike out to do something crazy, cutting edge, socially uncomfortable, aesthetically disturbing. I guess I leave it at that and let you deal with it as you choose. Shock becomes fad becomes trend becomes fashion becomes the norm. Me, my culture is on the  endangered list.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Art!, what you talk'n bout Willis?

I remember wanting to draw so bad my parents bought me art stuff and when I got them not knowing what to draw. I got the stuff, now I got to draw. You sit on it figuring it out. In the mean time parents and sibling are asking at every chance, "draw anything yet?" It's even worse if they put you in art class to find out. Self discovery at your own pace goes out the window, enter working it out under a deadline. You know artist can make good money, mone.... I'm just not that interested in art any more.

The cause and reason and motivation for art is a subjective thing. Talent springs from the mind-hand-eye coordination, plus an OOH man!, I just gotta make a mark, copy that, make note of that idea, work this out in a sketch. As the talent flows, the skill grows. The most stupid thing a spoiled actor can say is "what's my motivation here?" Read the script and get into the story you jerk. It is not about you until you become and are the character in the story. You are telling the story, be the story.

What about me the visual artist? What story do I tell, I am just drawing a tea cup on a saucer? Ahh! Media tells us your exploration, your preference, your choice. The lines, the form tells your skill to shape the image. The composition tells the emotional conveyance, the ambiance, the setting. Is it a casual cup at a cafe, breakfast at the kitchen table, a hurried spot in the lunchroom at break? Is it a soothing sip or a quick caffeine rush? Is it steaming hot or tepid or empty before the pour, empty after. Was it a good cup or chipped, new or well used. Did you leave behind oiled finger prints or lipstick on the rim or half empty or half full? A spooned teabag, a fingered teabag on the side, a wedge of lemon, torn sweetener pouches and the damn fly that lightens on the rim when your attention is elsewhere. Was it a good cup, I mean satisfying, a complement to good conversation, contemplation or a nerve damage repair and rescue mission cup? A cup of gossip or a no I don't drink coffee  cup? Was it Pekoe Cut Black or Ceylon Mystic Mint or Purple Lavender Rush or tea just tea? LOL, I drink coffee, what do I know?

"What you talk'n bout Willis?" After you put all that effort, energy and emotion into that tea cup drawing, someone walks up and says "what's that?" That's the rub, they don't realize the extent and endurance of your labors, the show is over and they are looking at the press release. You've done the math, they are looking at the aftermath. You've saw the tea cup, drew the tea cup and if the picture doesn't evoke the tea cup in your viewers, maybe they drink coffee and need to have some education. This is why gallery showings are cool, you get to spin your yarn about a great cup of tea. My point is some can and will interpret a drawing, others must be told what it means. The best complement is "thanks for sharing your cup of tea" along with "hey, can I buy that cup of tea?"

Sunday, April 08, 2012

multimedia happens a lot lately

How multimedia is multimedia and what's that got to do with me? Don't knock it till you've rocked it! So to be able to brain-wash myself, that is view and review my own  sketches, I scanned them all onto my hard drive. Then I can flick open a picture viewer and look away. I have several viewers the best one is Google's Picasa. Picasa is cool, has many features including a slide show. Oh what good is that? Sometimes while reviewing I see new ideas or how to use an old idea in a new context. Don't study them closely, sort of glance at them in passing, the brain is funny in how it operates, periphery vision (out the corner of the eye) really gets in the brain.

I also have a program that will put your slide show onto a video CD or DVD. You can construct quite a production with transitions styles and a sound track (narration anyone?) This good for a video portfolio or a gallery video art display.

Multimedia is also when I combine my inkjet printing with some hand painted or drawn stuff. Now when you do off computer work you can photograph it too and enhance it on your computer. This will also entice you to use a real pen/pencil or pick up a brush once in a while. By criss-crossing medias new surprises are sure to be noticed.

Play is the thing, serious play because each media has its quirks and character. I can do an ink smear digitally but also on say a paper plate or canvas by hand, they each have their character. As for quirks, pen ink may make a bold line then as it soaks into the surface it might bleed. So here a surface treatment is in order, like a sealant or acrylic gesso. This seals the surface and allows the ink to dry on the surface. In my play I discovered that acrylic paint on the paper plate surface does not bleed like ink does. I can thin the paint with water or gesso to get it to move the way I want.

I do the same play with my printer because photo paper, matte or glossy handles print differently. I also can load various kinds of paper or card stock into the printer. Since the printer ink remains constant, the kind of paper I use really effects the outcome. There is usually a combination that strikes your fancy. To tell you a secret, a lot of simple repetitive operations goes a long way. But, I can't say what works for you.

The main thing is the thought process to get the job done. Don't forget some folks are more inspirational than mechanical. There is a part of art that can't be taught. Even if the technique is good, if the heart or soul is not infused into the effort, it's just a well done mechanical effort. This is why many well trained artist have to get away, lose the training, bury the training, forget the training, exhaust the training, to get back to the core motivations of their artistic energies. Like when you first started, only now you got all this muscle memory and materials knowledge and an exercised vision at your disposal. BUT you all know how it is, you work at it until it flows and it gets better in time. Every stroke is a milestone. And if I'm talking a load of crap, it's because you've discovered a different insight, bravo, work wid it.