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.
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