Technology is pretty awesome. I finally bit the bullet and bought (charged) a new laptop. No longer will I sit down at Starbucks and be self-conscious of hipsteresque onlookers whispering to their buddies, "Hey, do you notice the guy with the vintage Dell, staring at the same Windows load screen for the past ten minutes. Hahahhahaa." No more frantically pounding CTRL+ALT+DELETE hoping to get my computer to restart after it freezes! Nope! Now I have 900 reasons to embrace the digital side of art with this shiny rectangle of plastic and metal, otherwise known as a laptop.
Just as many others have looked down upon digital art, so too have I, but no longer. I am beginning to understand just how complicated and time-consuming it can be to produce a great work of art wholly on a computer screen. It takes a lot of time and a lot of knowledge (that of software programs and of general art principles of perspective, light, and value, etc) to make great works of digital art.
Many artists are forced to use a drawing tablet that plugs in to the computer. You use a stylus (digitized pen) on the drawing tablet while looking at the screen to see where the cursor is. This is not how traditional art is done. The [Sony Vaio Flip 15a] laptop I bought gives me the ability to draw directly on the computer screen (which flips into an easel setup or lays completely flat like a tablet.) So, at any rate, I've been playing around with this ArtRage program it came with trying to teach myself more about digital art.
Above is an image of the four Layers I used to make this sketch. Layers are separate images that overlap each other. They mimic how a traditional artist paints on top of his pencil sketch, and then on top of the under-painting, and so on and so forth. One advantage with digital Layers is that you can make individual ones visible or hide them when you're done. You can reorder the Layers to change what overlaps what, too. As you can see here, I started with a pencil-like "brush" on a very textured canvas and then painted on another layer to cut out the profile of her face against the red background. Last, I painted more details in her face and added some shadows under the table just to differentiate that space from the gray of the girl's sweatshirt..
I think next time I won't use such a grainy, textured canvas to begin with. It made it hard to paint in the details of the face like the eyebrows and nostrils. I do like the textured look though, that's just my personal aesthetic, but I think less is more sometimes.
Sketches from an Airplane Window
I was admiring the view out of the smallish window of an airplane when I had no choice but to do my best to capture that moment. It was awkward considering I had an aisle seat and was staring past a mother and her young daughter, but I'd never let awkward get in the way of a painting. The mother was worried that her daughter was in my way, but I told her not to worry, as I like a challenge sometimes. There's something about the way the sunset and clouds look when you can't see any land among them. It's very mesmerizing. The horizon looks as if it is going infinitely to the left and the right of the sun and there's nothing in the light's way to impede it.
This is almost the opposite. There was no sky in view, only miles of farmland as far as the eye could see. I must admit on this one I snapped a picture on my cell phone and then did it later (on another flight, in the airport, who knows!) I've always loved the colorful grids that farmlands make when you see them from above.
Savin Rock Gazebo
I frequent the boardwalk in West Haven. Some parts are better than others; closer to the mouth of the river it is littered with 2 inch wide gaps (which make for a pretty uncomfortable bike ride) while other parts are beautifully paved and lined with seniors playing Bocce ball. Now that I think of it that might make for an interesting sketch, but on this day I found a gazebo...
I thought it would be easy to find something to sketch at the beach but it took at least 15-20 minutes to find this area. I underestimated the importance of being, something hard to find at the beach. A few reasons why I chose this area was because it had a beachy feel (water in the background), architectural elements (I like drawing and painting buildings), and organic elements (the plants in the middleground add a nice textural opposition against the gazebo's straight lines).
Here is my initial sketch done with a graphite pencil. Unlike the wood stove sketch I showed you a couple weeks ago, I took my time on the pencil sketch. It was probably a half-hour drawing and a half-hour painting. Take a mental note of the lighting. Right now almost the entire gazebo is covered in sunlight while the sky is mostly blue and gray.
In this picture you can see the difference of the lighting in just an hour. Now the sunset has come into play and the sky in the background has changed from a light blue to a light red (or pink as many people have told me; I've always felt pink is rather brash and bold while light red is barely there, often going unnoticed.) YES.. I am anthropomorphizing colors. Get used to it. Also, the gazebo is no longer in sunlight.
Here is the finished product along side my palette I clipped to my sketchbook.
While that initial sketch took just an hour, an artist's work is never done! I decided to touch it up while waiting for my clothes to dry at the laundromat. One of the ladies working there paid me a compliment and then preceded to tell me I should take some classes... I'm not sure how I feel about that. Anyways, I added some darker values behind the gazebo and made the sky darker while adding some red near the horizon.
As a promotion for my blog I am giving all those who subscribe a free high-resolution download of a painting I did called Schrodinger's Cat. For those who don't know who Schrodinger was or why his cat is so important, here is a dumbed-down explanation.
Schrodinger was a scientist who was colleagues with Einstein. I bring up Einstein mostly so that you can easily reference the time period (early 20th century). However, there were many other scientists of lesser fame that were also critical in developing the quantum mechanics theory. Quantum mechanics is a way of understanding the things that we cannot see on our human scale, such as atoms, molecules, and such. The theory, in part, states that it cannot be known what state a particle is in unless observed. It is instead in a state of probables... it probably is this, or probably is that. I've linked an article from the PBS website which helped me with this statement.
Schrodinger's Cat 2 - This was the second in my series based on Schrodinger's thought experiment.
Okay, back to Schrodinger and his poor cat. He believed that the quantum mechanics theory was all well and good when applied to [particles] on a smaller scale, but he wanted to prove that it would not work on a larger [seen by the human eye] scale. Schrodinger proposed the following thought experiment to disprove this part of the theory .
Schrodinger's Cat 3 - The third and last painting in my series based on the famous thought experiment.
So, there's this cat in a box. We can't see the inside the box. Obviously. However, we know that inside of the box there is a flask filled with poison and that if certain scientific conditions are met, the poison will be released, killing the cat. (I am avoiding the scientific conditions because I don't want to confuse you OR me!) I guess you could say it is on a time-release but we don't know how much time it has. It could be ten minutes or it could be one trillion years. Is Schrodinger's cat dead or alive? According to quantum mechanics, it is both DEAD and ALIVE! Not only is this perplexing to me (and probably you, too) but it was also to Schrodinger, which was exactly his point.
Schrodinger's Cat - The first painting I did in the Schrodinger series.
The process of creating this painting started with finding the equation in a science book from the library. I wrote (with graphite pencil) this equation on the primed (wood) board I would eventually paint on. I also did some preliminary drawing or skribbling! With acrylic paint I put some light transparent washes onto the board with purples yellows and blues. I did some more drawing with graphite on to the dried acrylic surface. The brighter values such as the large triangular structure in the center of the painting and the bright yellow "door" were done in oil paint. The painting is relatively small, probably about the size of the computer monitor you are looking at now (unless you are viewing on a smart phone!)
Landon R. Wilson
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