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thoughts and feels and thoughts and feels
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September 2009
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thoughts and feels and thoughts and feels [userpic]
Good art

is, in many definitions, anything in which technique looks effortless. Whether you're hearing a performance that is so musical that it seems to be constructed of light rather than notes, when you see ballerinas defy gravity for extended periods of time - that is Art.

I never really thought about it in terms of visual art - that always seemed to me to be more about seeing things that you hadn't seen before. But today Jeph talks about having a backlog of strips - and I realized I found the practicality of that extremely hard to imagine. Even since their genesis, I have believed that Faye and Marten and their array of cohorts are actual people. It's strange to think that there is not now, and indeed never has been, an apartment somewhere where a lanky Goth chick is playing Uno with two indie types while an AnthroPC entertains himself somewhere. It's strange to think that between every episode, someone on the East Coast sits down at a computer with a Wacom tablet and constructs all these people by turning pixels colors. It's strange to think that they aren't living people, aren't even characters created by actors - that their lives and beings exist almost exclusively as a long string of electrical pulses labeled as 0's and 1's.

They are real to me.
And that is effortless technique if I ever saw it.


One day I will afford one. I really will. Until that day, I work with a brush or a camera, or the written word - and getting to that effortless state is work in and of itself. There are shortcuts, but generally the process of the art itself renders the task more valuable.

In other words, appearance is terribly important, but sometimes I like to see struggle in a work of art too. That might be why I like Geoff Tate when it comes to singing, or Frida Kahlo in the art world. The work itself may be no more valuable for their struggles or appearances of overwhelming emotion, but it drives me somehow.

When I find a medium that allows me to do good work quickly and easily, I use it commercially - I care far less about it. When I find something that makes me try, not only for the image or sound, but for the process as well, then I feel I've achieved something, even if some of the more commecial stuff looks just as good.

I see exactly what you mean about great art and appearance, but from the perspective of creation, effortlessness isn't fun. I get bored, I move on.

Doesn't mean I think I do great art - I just do stuff that works for me, and I am more moved to task by challenge and emotion than by grace.

So, I desperately want a Wacom tablet, because it would save me 70% or more time on work - but I'd still do the stuff that mattered to me as a procedural task.

I think that's why Bill Waterson moved me so much - here's this guy who just tosses off these wonderful concepts and gesture pieces, and every now and then he'll take the time to do what no-one wants to see in comics commercially. Watercolor, pen and ink, great stuff. Same stuff that attracts me to some Anime, to bloody near all industrial music. Here's a baseline, what people like: And someone's gotta push for the next step.

Re: Wacom.

mmmmm.... yes... a Wacom Tablet would be a most appreciated tool!!
until then, it's either becoming better accomodated to the "bar of soap" (aka. mouse), making use of the vector drawing tools (definitley not as easy as a quick pencil/brush stroke, but can make a very exacting line), or scanning works for further manipulation and coloring in the computer.

alas, if they only weren't sooooooo expensive.
but, there's always ebay. But then again, not many people let go of their Wacom's.

Re: Wacom.

I suppose another thing here is that for me computer graphics manipulation has always been a means to a predetermined end. I've not started from scratch on a computer since I designed stamps on KidPix when I was 10. Nor have I ever felt the need to. What happens outside the machine is, to me, a far more compelling thing.

Re: Wacom.

well, the way I see it, the computer is no different than a sketch pad. It's another brush to use, with its own characteristic style and flow. I have created many a thing from scratch. I even do sculpting on the computer, using 3D programs. everything is built from scratch there as well. And then animated or rendered as still images... a virtual camera, as it were.
And yeah, it is also, a good bit of the time another part of an existing workflow. A lot of comics on the web are started by sketching on paper, inking it, scanning it, and coloring from there. the comics on neondragonart.com are done that way, for instance.

Re: Wacom.

See, I think effortlessness is great fun, when you can do it. The drudgery of getting there is not to be taken lightly, of course. But when one morning you wake up and find you can do something you never thought you'd be able to do - it's exhilerating.

And sometimes effortlessness is fun just because you CAN create something worthwhile - and you can focus more on the product than on the process. Making three-strand bead necklaces is by no means a difficult task for me (nor, I would wager, for many people at all.) So I can take the time to think how I want it to be in the end as I make it. And when I'm done, I have something worth having.

I suppose it's a question of whether you prefer in any given circumstance the process or the product. When I make things to wear, it's about the product - I make them because I can't buy them like I want them, and making something I would like to have is a worthwhile use of my time. But when I make ideas - it's all about the making-process. I don't have a whole lot of use for a finished idea, unless I apply it to another thing I'm making (like a story or a piece of music.)

It takes a lot of someone else's grace to make me want to be graceful, but I must produce very little of my own to make me want more.

I pine for Bill Waterson.

Re: Wacom.

hmm... I guess its a matter of one's expectations. i've been trained that the longer you spend on something, the better it is. But, it does depend a lot on the matter of what your goal is. Perhaps it is just a simple sketch that takes a few minutes. Other times, that original goal could be a much more massive vision that takes days to work through.
It may also be, that the original sketch you threw together in spare time, (something that was really really cool and only took a short amount of time) may end up being the inspiration of something much larger. But, from what I've seen of web comics, I doubt many of them were quick little ditties done simply. Even if the guy has a backlog by now, I doubt it was a quick toss-together to make.

well, they aren't just 0's and 1's, for they had to come alive somewhere else first; being the imagination of the artist. They are real to the artist as well. Then, they're just transduced into digital signals, as the lovely and highly refined voice of a singer is transduced through the microphone into electrical pulses, which are then transduced again into digital signals.

So, you might consider art, the trasduction of the imagination into other forms visible or audible for others to enjoy and experience.

... not to say that such transduction is easy, for it takes a while to refine one's ability to transduce well, and with fidelity to the original source. Similarly, it takes a while to build an effective piece of hardware or software that can transduce or convert with fidelity.

I suppose the distinction is that the medium of transduction is inherent to visual art (ie you have to use the medium or you can't create anything), whereas a microphone is not inherent to audial phenomena (you can make music without one.)

An instrument, on the other hand, *is* inherent to music. And instruments do take quite a while to learn, and certainly to learn with facility.

That's what I mean. They AREN'T just 0's and 1's, and in fact it takes rather a lot of doing to see them as that. And there's no sign of struggle - I know that if I were a well-rounded, living personality (well, I am I suppose, but) I wouldn't take kindly to subjection to this inorganic medium. Jeph makes them alive. Just as, I suppose, Picasso made a lot of smears of pigment alive.