For centuries, and especially during the last one, the question has been raised of ‘What is art?’. The Expressionist movement, started it in the early 20th century, with particular note to the Dadaist movement within it, were some of the first to really explore this question thru art and it’s something that has continued to be explored up to today with the post abstract modern art movement. It’s a fascinating mind think to ponder and define for yourself, as my art teachers have always been firm believers that art is in the eye of the beholder, and therefore can only be defined for that person’s tastes. The question I’m posing today branches off of this with ‘What can be used to make art?’.
For some people there are only a few mediums that are available to one who wants their work to be defined as art: paints, inks, wax, clay, and marble. The invention of Photoshop and it’s subsequent take over of the art world has often remained a strong contention point since its introduction in the late 80s as to whether or not a digital medium can be considered as skillful and praise worthy as working in something like oil paints. As someone whose gone thru formal training in the program I certainly believe it’s worthy of being considered a recognized art medium, but that’s not the program I wanted to show today.
No, today’s artist uses a medium that I highly doubt any artist would’ve thought to try right away; Microsoft Excel.
This video highlights the beautiful digital paintings created by Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi entirely in Excel. The 77-year old burgeoning artist decided he wanted to take up painting after retiring, but didn’t want to spend money on expensive paints or canvas, and decided to try the digital route. Not wanting to pay for an art program either if he could avoid it, he discovered Excel’s graphic abilities one day and started experimenting with them (not just filling cells with colors as some knitters are wont to do to design patterns). It’s truly amazing to see some of his finished work and it definitely makes you ponder the question I mentioned above. Since he only uses already available assets and manipulates them into images; ‘Is it art?’ Only you can define that for yourself.
Yesterday I talked about programs you can used to do free digital work to your creations. Today I’m continuing the digital side of crafting and taking it a step further to provide a new program and an example of how it can be used to effect your crafts/art. Say you’ve got a great design for a T-shirt you want to make. You’re in love with it and it looks perfect. You go to print it out and start your screen printing process and…crap. You made your design way too small.
What do you do? You spent hours on this design and now when you go to make it bigger it’s likely not going to look as good and isn’t suitable to print. Well, I have your answer. You go take a visit to waifu2x. Not a great name, I know, but here is an example from their site of the change in quality their program provides (you’ll have to click for the larger image to see everything better)
You simply chose the image you want from your files and select the level of customization for upscaling it that you need. While it’s likely not going to be perfect if your image is fully colored and fleshed out, it will expertly upscale and clean just about any image you give it better than most free image editing software. I wouldn’t use it all the time (you should always try and work in high resolution images whenever you make a digital design), but it’s great for those moments when you forgot or were in a rush and have a time crunch to get something finished by. 🙂
So I hurt my left arm last week and I’m having to take it easy and not crochet (cries forever at all the lost work time) to let the muscles recover from the strain. I’m doing more digital based work instead to keep from just lounging around and playing video games, so I thought I’d share some great art programs that can be used to create digital art on your computer that can all be downloaded at no cost to use. This way you can explore and see what programs work best for you. 🙂
Photoshop CS2 – You’ll have to create a free adobe login first if you don’t have one, but once you log in and go to this link you should be on the agreement page that leads you to the download. It’s all free, but no longer supported by adobe with updates. So if you have a system running newer versions of windows (like windows 10) it probably won’t run.
FireAlpaca – This is a nice simple paint/illustrator tool for Windows or Mac. Still supported and updated as well, while planning to always be free.
GIMP – Another free program that works for Windows, Mac or Linux.
Inkscape – My personal program of choice as a back to photoshop. It’s available to Windows, Linux, Mac and even as the source code; for all the people out there that are much for into programing then I’ll ever be.
As a bonus: CTRL+Paint Is a great resource to teach you how to you digital programs to make art, touch up photos, or do graphic design stuff like make vector based logos.