Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Photoshop knowledge is necessary for today's Fine Artists, right?

Let's get one thing straight, I do think that a fine artist can be successful in today's artworld without the knowledge of any computer software programs. It happens all the time! But, I would say it to be factual that it definitely helps to know a super-duper pixel manipulation tool like Photoshop (even if only to market the fine art that is being created elsewhere). I realize that there are Photoshop artists out there that make hyper-realistic Photoshop (.psd) files that have about 42 million layers and the file size is near a terabyte. But that is far from fine art and why not just take a picture and save the time?

I'm really saying that: as a fine artist in this day and age I struggle to budget time between hours on the canvas (or wood panel in my case) and learning SEO tactics or the latest Photoshop tutorial that can help me add a slight professional edge to my web design marketing plan.

The following is a very small example to help illustrate my point. I wanted to add a blog button to my fine art website kickthefaucet.com ... but I wanted it to be consistent with the theme of the site. Besides the fact that most of the site is in Flash (I'll save the flash knowledge argument for another post entirely) and its loaded thru FTP by Dreamweaver and graphics are edited highly in Photoshop - damn, I should by stock in ADBE; side note if you bought 100 shares of Adobe in the mid 1980(s) you would probably be a millionaire now... anyway, what was I talking about... oh yeah, Photoshop, so I had to make something (quick and fun) to support the OCD, obsessive compulsive theme consistent across the website. A bar of soap will do!! But the typical bar of soap that sits in my bathroom closet does not say blog on it -- hence, where Photoshop comes in:
  1. I took a quick snapshot of a fresh, new bar (ahhhh... the fresh sent - oh baby!!) of soap with a 2 mega-pixel phone camera:
  2. Dennis Ryan, Fine Art, soap image 1
  3. Notice the bar says Dial... ehh not really interested in advertising for them (yet) so that had to change, but with a similar font:
  4. Dennis Ryan, Fine Art, soap image 2
  5. After using the "Dial" as a place holder/guide, it had to go. Thanks Mr. Clone-Tool:
  6. Dennis Ryan, Fine Art, soap image 3
  7. Finally, I had to make the new type "blog" look like the Dial original type and also the ANTIBACTERIAL sub tag line. So with the help of some layer transparency styles in Photoshop (I didn't need to get too technical as I new the final .jpeg would be small) I got the highlight and color close enough:
  8. Dennis Ryan, Fine Artist, soap image 4
  9. And below is the final with the gray background to match the background of the website. This is to avoid using a .png24 with alpha channel support; which leads to higher than necessary file size in this case:
Dennis Ryan, Fine Artists, soap image 5
So, essentially, if I were to pay a web designer to help me look professional when represented globally on the internet, then I wouldn't need to know Photoshop. But I do know Photoshop, and the money I save on not paying a web designer... maybe I'll invest in ADBE and retire rich - as I believe that many categories of artists, even fine artists, will be buying, learning and using these programs for decades to come.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mental illness can help create great art, no?

Psychological disorders are important to the content of my art. I say that these same disorders or mental illnesses, that I use as concepts, actually have helped artists in the past create successful fine art.

So I ask these two questions as illustrative examples:
  1. Would Vincent Van Gogh be as famous as he is without a cloud of psychological disorders surrounding his life?
  2. Would Pablo Picasso's 'blue period' painting - The Old Guitarist - be as interesting as it in fact is if it were not painted when Picasso was "blue" with depression?
The extra-ordinary states of the mind of someone who suffers from OCD, depression, bipolar disorder, etc., may have something to do with the extraordinary paintings, prints and drawings that come from the artists that suffer from them. It's not to say that artists with normal mental thoughts cannot produce arts of wonder... it is to say that many, many artworks from the past and present have been created by people who are not in a normal state of mind. Very successful, very highly valued fine art has been done by artists that suffer from mental incapacitation. It may be the disorder that creates a neurotic passion that in turn, in addition to talent of course, affords the art. And it may be as a result of these mental disorder that these extremely great works happen at all.

When one looks at the world through the glasses of the mentally ill... things look different! So to say that when someone like Van Gogh self chastises himself by sleeping on the hard wood floor instead of the empty bed next to him (because of thoughts of other human beings in the world not having a bed) potentially hinges the state of the mind to a higher, more romantic level that can see views, perspectives, textures and colors that normal everyday states of mind can not.

I've often found it interesting how many of the great artists and fine artists from the past have been associated with some form of mental illness. Two examples for this post are: Vincent Willem van Gogh - any number of his pieces; and Pablo Picasso - specifically his Blue Period.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Gogh
"Van Gogh cut off the lobe of his left ear during some sort of seizure on 24 December 1888. Mental problems afflicted him, particularly in the last few years of his life...There has been much debate over the years as to the source of Van Gogh's mental illness and its effect on his work. Over 150 psychiatrists have attempted to label his illness, and some 30 different diagnoses have been suggested. Diagnoses which have been put forward include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy and acute intermittent porphyria. Any of these could have been the culprit and been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia, and a fondness for alcohol, and absinthe in particular."

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picasso's_Blue_Period
"The Old Guitarist is a painting by Pablo Picasso, painted in 1903, just after the suicide death of Picasso's close friend, Casagemas."

Let's think about these artists/artworks for a moment.

Now think about what these artworks would have looked like if these respective artists were on an SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or other class of antidepressants. Would the artists/artworks be as interesting or successful if they had been dulled by a brain balancing chemical like Zoloft. What would the art look like without the contribution of the disorderly, unbalanced mental state at the time of creation? Without these mental attributions, would these pieces even be worth blogging about?