art and technology

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I’ve spent the last few weeks since before Christmas fighting a nasty sinus infection. I’m on my third round of antibiotics and have been spending a lot of time on the couch. I can’t stand being idle for too long and I have a real need for creating things. It’s kind of like eating for me. I have to do it, so I started thinking  about how I might be able to create art when I didn’t have the energy to go into my studio. As some of you may know I have been wanting to write a new children’s book for sometime now. I thought that when I did it would be another “Millicent the blue cow” book, but the story for that one has not risen to the surface of my imagination yet. I also mentioned that I was going to write a book about my cat Fluffer, who was a member of our family for 19 years from when he was a very tiny little kitten to a bony old man. The first book, (and I  expect that there will be more than one), will be about how he was found and was given his full name-Philly Fluffer Little Dude Cat in the Box Oliver Poopy.

I decided that being laid up on the couch was a perfect time to write a book and start illustrating it in between medicine induced naps and coughing fits. Painting the illustrations wasn’t going to be an option, so the cleanest way I could think of to do it was to look for ways to be able to create the illustrations on my iPad.

Searching the App Store, I found a terrific program called “Concepts” in which I have learned to create colored pencil illustrations that print out just beautifully. I actually think I can draw better and get a lot more detail with the digital application then I can with real colored pencils! Needless to say there was a huge learning curve. Drawing on an iPad and using digital programs is not something that I’ve done before, but in January, every so often, it seems to be the time of year when I embark on something new. I always like a new challenge! 

There are aspects of the program that function like Photoshop, where  you can use layers to place images one layer on top of another as if you were laying pieces of tracing paper over top. It also has a large color palette much like a Pantone palette of colors with a dial that I simply spin with my finger or Apple Pencil to choose the color that I want or choose the eyedropper to copy a color that I have already laid down, which is really great for consistency. The working space is unlimited and I can simply pinch my fingers in and out to change the size of the image that I am working on which is one of the functions that allows for getting that great detail. There are several tools- pencil, marker, pen, airbrush, watercolor, and more which are all adjustable for width, opacity and smoothness. I did go through some frustration and it took me some determination to  get it. There are some tutorials, but I am that dopey person who doesn’t like reading instructions or learning first. I want to get right to it and then after I get myself good and frustrated because I realize I don’t actually know what I’m doing, is when I will go back usually and read the instructions. Ha ha! 

I had started out using the watercolor palette which was a mistake in and of itself. Considering that I haven’t made a watercolor painting since high school, have never been a watercolorist, and don’t understand watercolor, I don’t know why I thought that this program was going to magically transform my ability with the medium.  

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When I decided to drop that and went to the colored pencil, I started to get the hang of it enough to begin moving along quite quickly with the book illustrations. Now I’m having so much fun and I really can’t wait to put this book together and see the finished results. 

Having previously been anti- iPad being  ignorant of what it could do, and having  had a bit of a distain for creating art in the cold confines of a computer screen, you can call me a convert. There are many pluses to being able to create on my iPad - I don’t have to have a pile of brushes or paint or markers floating around me whenever I want to work on it. 

I take my iPad with me wherever I go now so that if I am waiting in the doctors office, or just have some time on my hands here and there, that, and my apple pencil are all I need. The images are already in the format that I need to upload them for publication and I will not have a lot of individual paintings or drawings lying around that I need to find homes for.  All around it’s a win-win and I’m glad I gave this technology and art thingy a try.

P.S. I will be working on this while in Nicaragua next month (February) and hope to come back with a completed book. Also, while I am not going to tax myself with daily blog writing, I am going to try to blog at least every few days both to keep a diary and to let you in on my adventure, so be sure to bookmark, subscribe (if you know how to do that) or stop back often to read up on the days news. 

Adios for now!