Studio Activity #4

Before I start experimenting with digital art, let’s first take a moment to learn about what exactly is digital art. From the website, www.medium. com, “Digital Art Weekly, contributor, Marie Chatel explains the following:

Art historians often categorize digital art as twofold: object-oriented artworks and process-oriented visuals. In the first scenario, digital technologies are a means to an end, and function as a tool for the creation of traditional objects like paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures. In the second case, the technology is the end itself, and artists explore the possibilities entailed to the very essence of this new medium. This latter category — often associated with the term “new media” — refers to all computable art that is digitally created, stored and distributed. In other words, while some works rely on digital tools to magnify an already-existing medium, others use digital technology as an intrinsic and indissociable component in the making of the artifact. With these definitions in mind, the list below presents current practices linked to the digital medium.

Chatel breaks down digital art into different categories which can be found here!

Now that we have an idea of WHAT is digital art, let’s learn about WHO creates digital art:

It’s time to talk about the HOW– just how do we create digital art? While there are many platforms available, I chose Inkscape, a computer drawing website, to explore the concept of creating digital art.

I chose Inkscape for the following reasons:

-I was not familiar with the program and therefore have never used it before.

-After researching a few different options online, this website seemed to offer basic technical skills, which I found reassuring for someone (me!) who has no experience creating digital art.

– There are several You Tube tutorials available which were incredibly helpful.

-It is FREE (while the program is free, there is an added one-time expense of purchasing an iPad or computer).

-It was easy to download the program from the website (see homepage below).

Inkscape Homepage.

Let’s get started!

Hmmm. While I did go through the Inkscape website and read about the features, the site is a bit lacking on technical know-how and filled with a lot of information about the Inkscape community news and updates. In short, the website itself is not very informative in actually how to use the drawing tools. I suppose this is a case of you get what you pay for? (which was nothing….)

So it’s time to take my curiosity to You Tube for my first tutorial:

The You Tube tutorials are broken down into different lessons starting with the basic skills and progress in difficulty through each video. The videos range between 10-15 minutes each which is sufficient and (for the most part) allow you to stay focused on the skills presented. Please note, there are many different tutorials on You Tube, however I chose this series as they seemed to start at a very beginner level and increase technical skills gradually.

Practicing the skills demonstrated in the first tutorial, I created contemporary art, a simple exercise using shapes and colors.

Taking things a step further, I incorporated text, the freehand calligraphy tool and non-geometric shapes.

As well as an image that reminds me of my worst nightmares from high school geometry class.

While using the different tools to create shapes and lines in different colors is fun to experiment with, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to take these skills further based on the tutorials I watched. According to the Inkscape website, these images were created using the program:

Gallery from Inkscape

I can barely put a few shapes together and someone created a lifelike version of Sandra Bullock. So obviously there is quite a vast range of what can be accomplished if you get really comfortable using Inkscape.

Let’s look at how Inkscape would work in the classroom.

Elementary Students: As Inkscape is a digital arts program, use of a desktop computer, laptop or iPad are needed. This presents a few issues, including potential mishandling of electronics by students (think dropping, spilling water, cracked screens etc.). The program itself could be a great opportunity for students to learn about shapes and colors as well as getting comfortable with computer basics such as using the mouse, perhaps how to save an image, as well as deleting and changing elements on the screen. My concerns are more with the visual layout of Inkscape- I feel it could be too technical, condensed and quite frankly, boring, to hold student’s attention and be user friendly for them. A better functionality of this program might be the teacher using it on a larger, projected screen to demonstrate creating shapes, lines and experimenting with color.

Middle/High School Students: While the above concerns are still valid, at this point kids are very comfortable using electronics and so the worry about mishandling diminishes a bit. I feel confident that students at this level could really experiment with Inkscape beyond the creation of two-dimensional geometric artworks. That said, I do still wonder if the lack of features make this program a little uninspiring and therefore one where students won’t feel the desire to spend a lot of time learning to create.

My Takeaway: As I had difficulty creating work beyond the very basics, I quickly lost the drive to create my own version of Sandra Bullock. The program is reminiscent of when I was learning AutoCAD for my jewelry program, twenty years ago. AutoCAD at that point was used primarily for architects who needed a lot of straight lines. There aren’t too many straight lines in jewelry and my frustrations were epic; Inkscape brought back many of those feelings! However, I am aware I’m entering the digital art world with a lot less technical know-how than many middle and high school (and probably some elementary!) students. I think this program could be a good way for a student to practice and experiment before moving on to a more innovative and creative digital art platform.