Saturday, March 31, 2012

Computer art is............

There are the kind of persons in any endeavor who does one thing well. Hats off to them. BUT, the old saying, "a jack of all trades and a master of none", sort of sums up the handyman spirit that has colored our country. Every team sport has second strings, pinch hitters, relief pitchers and substitutes, companies engage in cross training employees as backups. In the arts we wear the blurry title of multimedia artist. Because we've discovered we are not annoyed by other media and methods encroaching into our unique specialty, we have realized that the expanded pallet of ways and means fits our handyman mentality.

Example, my concept of a computer artist was drawing with a digital pen tablet the same as I would draw on paper and an ink pen. I am a trained instrument draftsman not a freehand drawer, so that concept means anxiety and envy constantly. I can do sketches comfortably, yet finished drawings elude me because spin-offs and variations abound, also color and detail is a challenge. The computer allows for obvious advantages, the best one is to change my mind, record it and keep on working along the original thought. When you see my finished work it is an inkjet print, but the process is multimedia. I can sketch a sketch on paper, scan it into my computer, then alter, adjust, manipulate it, then print it.

Oooh man, that's cheating! No, every media has its own set of rules, to draw with charcoal is to draw with charcoal. Charcoal drawing has its feel and look. A computer can emulate that look but not that feel. Even if you put a chunk of coal in the plotter, it can not intuitively turn it to get the "good" edge or adjust the pressure to get the moment by moment nuances of human drawing interaction. The act of drawing is the art for the artist.

Computer art is different yet the same. You have to pick a path to get to the end result. You must be careful how you alter and edit so as to not mess up the continuity of your work. If you sketch on paper, scan in, then edit, does your computer fixes mesh with your hand drawn scanned work, or stick out like a patch on a tire? On the computer many paths have been outlined by their overall usefulness. Like photo editing or desktop publishing or CAD (computer aided design). The tools in the software haven't changed, but the application of them is glorified in certain processes. In reality you use whatever tools gets the job done.

I have picked a sub-set of all the things a computer can do. By focusing on what I know, I don't get overwhelmed by complexity and it leaves room to learn more stuff as I go along. Don't forget if you know too much the only thing you can do tell others what you know. That can take you right out of the doing. I know this because old guys are expected to pass on their experiences to the younger generation. But at art I am still a new guy!

As you all know I promote Free Open Source Software especially for artist. It may not be what you need for commercial professions where commercial software dominates and is the norm, but for you who are exploring, learning, free lancing, have no qualms, want to try it out, and do art with your economics in check, there you go. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Back to the art of art

Well folks, the designated black history month is over but ever continues in the background. Too much info and not enough mind to comprehend all you'll never learn in school. So back to the regular stuff.

Your Linuxville guide has done it. I have my new but used laptop with Ubuntu and open source apps on it. Then I took one of the PCs at the art center and loaded open source apps on it to match what I have on my laptop. The art center desktop runs Win XP. So I now have GIMP, Inkscape, MyPaint, Scribus, TuxPaint, Wings 3D, Libre Office, and Google's Sketchup on both machines.

Here's my plan. Introduce folks to Open Source Graphics Applications to learn what they can do with free software using the same tools and techniques as used in commercial software. This is basic stuff. The caveat comes when you want to step up to the next level. Do you buy the commercial software or learn the deeper skills on Open Source? Most Photoshop folk don't like GIMP and vice-versa. Familiarity and habit are the culprits. You do what you need to do but if you must learn both, I hope you've got a wide bandwidth. I think the key is knowing you don't have to know everything, just what you need to know, huh?

I haven't used the digital pen and tablet to draw, still haven't got into that. I have drawn on paper, scanned it into GIMP to tweak it, then imported it into Inkscape. In Inkscape there is a bitmap tracer that works great. I am also using GIMP/Inkscape to make textures for a Sketchup project. A few simple techniques can give you lots of mileage. Then when you learn something new, your repertoire is enlarged. I am so tempted to revisit older projects to capitalize on new skills. Don't make a habit out of that though, you never get any new stuff done. Man, if I only knew then what I know now!

I love the idea of the print. If you've done silk screen or lithographs or block prints, you know what I mean. The print can be a blast or the source of anguish. In the digital print world you have to learn to accept what it is, a print. Inkjet has it's character. It is not appreciated in the fine art sense the way inkjet print photography is. So a lot is riding on color and composition if the print device can spit it out. Yeah, you've got to work the software and the printer. I had a guy see my stuff imagining them as big paintings. When he saw they were small prints, what a let down. I am disappointed too, I told him. While I can do the artwork for free, the big prints are costly. My printer can print 13" x 42", I use a service like OfficeMax for larger prints. So printing big has no advantage over doing an acrylic painting the same size, where you have to buy paints and canvas and stretchers and frames, etc. Digital is cool though when it comes to reproductions, they all are originals.

I'm getting too busy doing things other than making art. Making artistic persons is time consuming. Still gathering hardware to have classes. We are looking for PC monitors now. Still having fun.