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Media Diary Conclusions: Making Art

A number of my entries in my media diary center on the theme of making art. (In fact, a number of my entries are the art pieces themselves.) Art and the process of making art (digitally or traditionally) are themes that consistently appear in my life, regardless of whether I’m forced to write in a media diary or not.

What sparked this theme this time have been the images I’ve made for my digital art class. They are images that I’ve worked hard to render the final results for. It has undoubtedly made me ask some questions about the process of making art with a computer and the difference I feel from making art in the traditional, non-digital methods.

These questions have led me to some predictable and some surprising thoughts that I’ve found to ring true for me: (your own experiences may be different…)

  1. Figure drawing nude backMaking art with a computer is a results-driven process. It is about the final image. This contrasts with what originally drew me to make art initially. Drawing, printmaking, and sculpture are not necessarily about the results (though getting a good image is always a nice bonus) – but about the process itself. Drawing is more about seeing and observing than about getting an exact representation on paper. Sculpture is about playing with mud. And printmaking – well, I just love the smell of ink, the feel of good 100% rag paper, and turning that press.
  2. What I see on the computer is NOT always what I get, as in: “Wow that looked sooo good on the monitor but what the heck happened to the mid-range???” It’s a frustrating struggle to reconcile what I see on the monitor with the final 2-dimensional tangible result on paper. I experienced that frustration with my final print project.
  3. The marks made with a computer are usually a reflection of the results I am after and a good indication of how well I know the application. The marks made with drawing, painting, and sculpture are usually a reflection of my current state of mind. A confident line is markedly different from a hesitant one.
  4. Making art with a computer is usually a solitary process. Contrary to popular stereotypes, there are a number of traditional media that lend themselves to working among peers. Printmaking is a wonderful example. Many printmakers who don’t own their own press will usually join a print studio, where working in a group is common. Camaraderie is what I miss the most. Drawing from life is another example. Most artists will draw with groups and though most of the time is spent concentrating on drawing, those breaks can lead to some pretty interesting conversations. When was the last time you made digital art in a group? (Lab time in class does not count!)
  5. It’s much easier to carry a sketch book than a computer regardless of how light the laptop is. Because after all, what happens when the battery dies and there are no electric outlets in the middle of the campground?
  6. Computers make me swear. A LOT!
  7. I really miss making art the traditional way.
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2 Responses to “Media Diary Conclusions: Making Art”

  1. Trix says:

    Well, hello, person-I’m-a-fan-of. Late Saturday night, I’m stalling going to bed, and so I decided to check out blogs of friends. I’m glad to see there are many new entries of yours I can catch up on.

    This entry inspired me to comment — or rather, to add to your list. I’m currently working as a freelancer laying out for VS catalogs (just figure out the initials so I don’t get sued) and I use the Mac all day. I’m still a fan of any digital work you do, but I do agree with everything you’ve written. I also add that with fine arts the energy is more organic and bodily experienced: the hand touching pen or brush (my hand touching pen on paper when I write); the light in front of my eyes touching absorbent fiber as opposed to reflective glass… the cumulative energy spent in front of the computer, whether writing or digital drawing or even manipulating digital photos, is actually disembodying.

    It’s the opposite of having the body be part of the artmaking process, which is inevitably what the spirit wants to drink in. So yes, the end-oriented digital work is the alter-ego (or rather the ego version) of the process-oriented handcrafted work.

    I’ve made my peace with this whole computer business — my left brain certainly LOVES the darn thing — but I can definitely feel my body going from flat to round (not literally but energetically) when I step away from the computer. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

    So I guess the more we spend time in front of the computer, the more we have to make sure our sensitive spirits are still in touch with the earth and anything that comes from the ground and air. And again, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. For me, though, I have to be real vigilant. There’s something about my left brain that suspends time when I’m in front of the computer, and before I know it the day has ended and I’ve lost the opportunity to do something for the rest of my body and most of all my heart.

    X O X O. Your entries make me wish we were campus buddies again and can share lots of late-night ponderings and musings.

    – Trix

  2. trish says:

    Hey Trix,

    What was interesting to me was the response of some of my classmates when I gave my presentation on my conclusions. One of them said she had the opposite reaction to making art without a computer. For her it felt unnatural, that her preference was to make art with a computer. I asked her which came first in her training, and unsurprisingly, she said the computer. That somewhat saddens me.

    But I think you put it best: working with a computer is very disembodying, and I have a need to remain tactile. My body physically needs to move, to be active, and not just in my lifestyle, but also in the way I express myself through art. That last digital piece I made, Pacing the Cage, is very symbolic…

    And thank you for reminding me that I need to acknowledge that there is something incredibly magnetic about working with computers. I know I put up with an incredible amount of pain just to continue working on this machine. I do LOVE it. That’s why I’m in this business… but it’s that balance that I’m craving.

    *Sigh* It sure would be nice to just meet at a cafe and talk about this over tea (I gave up coffee!), but thankfully, we have blogs and email and our computers to help with the conversation.