Monday, February 21, 2011

Digital Art?

I know I have been strangely silent for awhile now. My dolls are gathering dust. But I am back now on a new tangent.

This Christmas I treated myself to a new toy. A Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch.  It is a white rectangular tablet with a wire sticking out one side and a pen holder where you park your stylus on the other. The stylus is shaped like a fattish pen with a couple of buttons on it that you have to be careful not to press when you are working. Pressing them  at the wrong time can lead to some unexpected results.

Also getting used to the slippery surface so unlike paper or canvas is another challenge. But we humans are very adaptable creatures.

Since you can't see any of the marks you are making on the white tablet you have to use the wire to hook it up to your computer. Then you will see the marks appear on the computer screen.

It takes some hand, eye, brain co-ordination that is for sure. Fortunately one of my favorite drawing exercises is contour drawing where you don't look at the paper while drawing the outline of your subject. It is specifically designed to nurture this connection between the hand, eye and brain.

But the tablet takes you much further than simple contour drawing. The options are incredible.  Pick your surface: do you want canvas or rag water color paper?  Choose the degree of texture or "tooth" you want on the surface.  Then decide whether you want to draw in pencil,  felt tip pen, chalk,  pen and ink,  sgraffito or calligraphy. If you want to paint in oil, decide on palette knife or various brushes. If it's gouache or water color do you want to use dry brush technique or simple wet? There are at least ten choices and on top of that you can choose your brush size.

Remember the saying you can't mix oil and water? Well you can in this world. Throw in a little conte or gouache too while you are at it. Anything goes.

Compared to the price of art supplies these days this little device costs peanuts at a couple of hundred dollars.

Even the largest of the several tablets  is small but you can zoom in to various areas and this is a real boon when you are working on something very intricate. Oh and you can flip the paper around on the screen too!

Down sides? The major one is size. When you print it out at letter size it tends to be blurry. And while it may look like an oil painting on the screen the printed version lacks that texture.

But if you are prepared for that then welcome to the virtual world.  Here are some of my creations. I am still learning and it is fun to see the progress I make each day as my brain and eye co-ordination improves and my hand gets used to the slippery surface.  If you compare the drawing of the fictional Rosa in one of the next posts to this first drawing I did you can see a world of difference in the confidence of the lines.

With apologies to Shell who is a very attractive woman this one is called

Can You Spell Shell?

Seeing as how I couldn't seem to control my hand I thought I would have to eschew my usual detailed style (much maligned by a previous water color teacher when I was at Art School) and was doomed to producing abstracts for the rest of my life. But I had to admit that was more relaxing. And having every color of the rainbow at your finger tips was great.

Smells Fishy 2 Me

This next one was conceived on a drive home on a beautiful winter day. The new snow was thick, white and clean. The bare trees cast a blue shadow.  When I got home I couldn't stop thinking about it so I dragged out the tablet and came up with this virtual felt tip pen drawing that I call

 Fencing with Winter

This next one is also done using the felt tip pen.  Got a long way to go before I can call myself Audubon but I guess the red is a dead giveaway that my little Fence Sitter is supposed to be a cardinal!

Looks like this one may have gotten too big. See you in the next post.

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