08 September 2011

Cool New Art Ideas

I've always been fascinated with computers.  In high school I was the lone female in the BASIC computer class offered through the AV department, taught on T100's.  We saved our work on cassette tapes at the end of a session.

I doubt my 18-year-old remembers life before computers.  I was expecting her when I read about this exciting new resource, "the internet."  I asked around, focusing on my favorite geeky neighbors, if anyone had access to this new information pool; no one did.

And now I use the computer to do everything, include create art.  Even more exciting, today when I did a Google search for "kaleidoscope" my Youtube video came up on the first page. Not sure how as the viewing numbers are still single digits, but I'll take it!

There are two types of "digital art," computer generated and user driven traditional emulation.  Most of the time the computer generated art is based on vectors, or numeric algorithms that create paths, fills and strokes.  Flash and Illustrator are vector driven programs.  I prefer pixel driven digital art.  Pixels are tiny colored dots, or really squares, lined up to created a picture.  I think of them of little pools of paint.  Working with pixels in Corel Painter is more intuitive and feels more natural if you come from a traditional painting background.

I've been using Photoshop and Corel Painter (both registered trademark names) for many years.  The learning curve for Painter was steeper, but in the long run it has been far superior for painting intuitively in a traditional manner.  That's not to say that there aren't some great tools included that I only wish I had in my wet painting studio.

I bought my first digital camera about ten years ago.  A creature of habit I still had my prints done at a retail kiosk and I remember a conversation I had one day with the clerk about how cool it would be if you could somehow create a kaleidoscope from an interesting image.

Corel did a major overhaul of Painter this year and released in June a significantly different, and I think much improved (and I loved the old one) product.  As a fun addition it includes a plug-in that will create a kaleidoscope based on what you draw in a section of the pie shaped grid it provides for you.


I made this little video just for fun while I was figuring out how to use screen capture software to make videos.  I honestly don't know for certain how this kaleidoscope tool is driven, it almost seems like it has a vector based influence while I push the pixels.  Best of both worlds?  My vision for future use is as part of larger painting, almost as if doing a virtual collage and incorporating a kaleidoscope creation.  In the mean time enjoy the visual curiosity.

The discussions about digital art have changed over the years.  I submitted a body of work to the federal copyright office in the early 2000's and actually received a call from an indignant representative of the office saying "So what did you do, just scan some photos and press a button on the computer?"   While that was not my process and I laughed and said "I wish!" and gave her a few details about the complexity of the digital painting process, this was a sentiment resounded many times over the years.  I don't hear that question anymore, more often it's "can you show me how to do this?" and the explanation is more education than defensive.

Now I can easily say "It's just another tool for artist.  And like any other art tool, some will use it better than others and after a while we will be able to distinguish who has a mastery of skill and who just pushes a single button on the computer."

Questions, comments and intelligent discussion about this baby genre of art are welcome.

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