Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Age of Art

I'm a Mac Head. I was drawn, literally and figuratively, to the first Macintosh Computer primarily because of a program called MacPaint. It was a simple black and white program that let you draw on the screen using the mouse.  You could print out a black and white sketch a third the size of a standard 8x10 page.  Wow.. I thought.  Goodbye forever to ink spills on my drawing table even though the MacPaint pixels were so large it looked like something made with Legos. But, drawing on the computer was a new and exciting experience and I have never stopped. 
MacPaint gave way to more complicated art programs, full color, full page and eventually the ultimate drawing program for me... PhotoShop. But because digital drawing tablets were so expensive and clumsy I was relegated to doing my work with the mouse.  My friend Kirk Thatcher compared using a mouse to sketching with a bar of soap. It is a learned skill causing you to adjust to the needs of the computer rather than the other way around.  I was finally able to train myself to look at the screen and not my hand while attempting to paint on a computer with a mouse.  
The minute Apple announced something called the iPad, I got excited. It looked like a drawing tablet to me and I was sure that one day they would construct and app that would allow me to draw directly on the "page/screen".  The minute that happened, I said to myself, I would have one of those iPad toys.  
After the third generation of iPad, the speed and the apps were there so I decided to make the leap and purchase an iPad, primarily to draw on.  However, I quickly found that drawing with your finger is no more satisfying than drawing with a mouse.  I went to the Apple Store to get a stylus but couldn't find one among the accessories.  The "genius" told me they had them in the back, they sold them but did not encourage their use. It seems Steve Jobs believed things on the iPad should mostly be done with the bare hands.  
For me a stylus was the next step in learning to draw in the electronic age.  It is better than sketching with your finger or a bar of soap, but the rounded point of a stylus is as big as your finger tip. Using a a stylus to draw is like trying to paint with an un sharpened Crayola.  Once again as amazing as this technology was, I still had to adjust to the artistic demands of the technology, rather than have the tech hide seamlessly in the background.  I also discovered that the amount of time I spend drawing on an iPad wears out the average stylus in about three weeks.  Over the last few years I have spent a sizable sum of money on styluses for my iPad.  
So, Apple this year comes out with the iPad Pro.  Bigger faster and sexier than former models.  But the most important feature of the Pro is the Apple Pencil. It did not take long to make it happen after Jobs was no longer there to object. After playing with a demo model Pencil at the Apple Store, I was hooked.  
Apple was able to create the "stylus" that I have always wanted for the iPad.  It is smoother, faster and more responsive than any "digital tablet" I have ever tried.  The pencil tip is the perfect shape and size. Some how the perfectly balanced "electronic pencil" uses it's own touch and a bluetooth signal to make the experience of drawing on the iPad even better than pen and paper. 
Sandi gave me the iPad Pro for Christmas and although I was told I had to wait about 4 weeks for the pencil, she was able to find one for me to open Christmas day.  It is as exciting to draw with as I ever imagined.
So you might think that my art work has taken a dramatic turn for the better, especially since I have been iPad Pro drawing non-stop since Christmas morning.  I thought it was just a matter of having the right tool for the job.  Between, soap bar drawing, guessing where the line is under the tip of a flattened crayon and feeling like a "finger painting" child, I had forgotten how to draw with a pencil.  Since this is the closest thing to the actual feeling of drawing with a pencil, I am relearning how to use such a primitive tool.  Things like the pressure and angle of the Apple Pencil effect the opacity, size and strength of the line being drawn.  Until now that was only important when you were actually using a #2 Ticonderoga.  
It's getting there. Relearning how to be subtle with the stroke of a pencil is a good thing never to loose. But for now the learning curve is steep and the memory banks are a little dusty.  I can tell you now that I will never go back to drawing with a bar of soap, it's a new world.       
As you were,


Anonymous said...

Another bubble of light that is enabling an even deeper dive into the ever expanpanding digital world. EC

Anonymous said...

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