Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Digital Collage—2 Mapkins

Essay & Lesson—2 Electronic sketches


A Digital Drawing.  Buy an electronic graphics tablet and pen.  (I have a Wacom.)  Buy a graphics software program.  (I have Adobe Photoshop.)  Read the instructions to open a new file window (in which you will draw) and view your tools.  Without reading further instructions, try out tools in your new file window and see what happens.  Try your mouse and your electronic pen.  Try various commands you find in your menus.  Let an image develop in your file window.  It can be abstract or representational.  It might be a mess.  That's OK.  If it's ugly, that's good!  Good or bad doesn't matter, but meaning is interesting.  What does it mean?  When did meaning come?  

For example, "Animals" was one of the first electronic sketches I made by trial and error, learning a lot with no meaning in mind.  But as the image developed it suggested a scary clash of animals.  So I brought that out.

A Digital Collage—Your Drawing plus a Found Object.  Find a flat object—e.g., a magazine page, a dish, a glove—that relates in some way to your digital drawing.  Buy a scanner or a digital camera.  Read the directions to scan your object or download a photograph of it into your computer and open it up in a file in your graphics program.  This is your collage background.  Open the file containing your digital drawing.  Find your move tool and use it to move (drag) your drawing from its file window to the file window containing your background object.  Now your drawing is a transparent layer on top of your background object.  Edit your drawing to work compositionally with your object.  What does your collage mean to you?  Give it a descriptive title. 
For example, I thought of my sketch "Animals" as an unfortunate stain—a besmirching.  So I found a commercial doily I owned and scanned it into my computer.  I opened "Animals" and dragged it onto the scanned image of my doily.  Then, with my electronic pen, I erased a lot of the grey surrounding the animals and rotated them to fit in the curve of my doily.  I named my collage "Splotch".  My digital collage was my guide for the painted and stitched version of "Splotch".

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Essay—Sketching Better Electronically

Pitching Computers.  I'm often struck dumb by computers and benumbed by computer instructions.  Sometimes I  want to pitch my computer (and me) out my second story window.  On the other hand, sketching in my computer, in a miasma of technological confusion, is so transporting and engrossing (in a love/hate kind of way) that I forget myself and lose all track of time.  So I also want to pitch my computer to you as a great tool for visualizing and getting ideas.

The Computer as Enabler and Muse.  As a student attending an introductory computer workshop years ago, I was sketching banatmospheric images when I accidentally clicked my mouse on what I later learned was a "distort" command, and one of my bananas morphed—right before of my eyes—into a tornado!  That flash of visual transformation sparked a surfeit of silly and serious ideas in me.  This serendipity, born of my computer ignorance, was so inspiring that I ran out and bought my first computer.  It took a while to stop agonizing over my failure to do things right and start registering and embracing what was actually happening, thus turning "failure" into a process of discovery—learning by trial and error in a relatively nonverbal, intuitive, spontaneous, and nonjudgmental state of naivete.

While sketching electronically, you are not distracted by the challenges and limitations of real art tools and materials.  In a "virtual" sketch you can do, undo, and redo your marks, develop your composition in transparent layers that can be rearranged or hidden, and save versions of your sketching in progress.  Digital sketching dispels anxiety, because nothing is really lost or overworked beyond redemption.  Without having to worry about ruining your sketch and wasting your materials, you are free to chase ideas and capture form and contemplate, for as long as it takes, endless permutations of your sketch on your way to satori (or death from old age).

See Renie's embroidery "Stormy Banana"  developed from the digital sketch shown above.
Back to top. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Crocheted Poem

The pot in the illustrations is titled "In the Teapot", crocheted and knotless netted, 2-3/4" x 5-1/4" x 4-3/4", 2009.
Back to top.