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!