View Full Version : New Technologies in Art Education
Hello, I'm a Wetcanvas Virgin, so please be nice. I was wondering, with all this talk on digital art going on, don't you think it's time it got some form of recognition in the art education curriculum? Obviously, basic drawing skills and general 'classic' art appreciation will reman fundamental for years to come, but I am interested in others views. Is it important, for example, to offer pre-college students the opportunity to work in modern mediums (such as digital) or should that be left to further education courses so that 'youngsters' can concentrate on the basics?
Come on you pixel people! Let me know your opinion!
03-26-2001, 08:14 AM
Ages ago, an American public TV show did a profile on how digital art for TV and movies was driving the (former) California recovery. One of the scenes they showed was the folks out at the group responsible for FX on Titantic trying to find 3D artists with classic art training. They even went so far as to send them to school, so they had a shot of computer geeks in a drawing class. As much as I love digital, I think you need to emphasize traditional FIRST. You read "See Jane Run" before you read Shakespeare.
I do believe that they could teach the basics using computers as educational aides to illustrate such ideas as composition, shading and lighting, and let users bang out huge numbers of practice items quickly.
"Art is anything you can get away with." -- Marshall McLuhan
[This message has been edited by dhenton (edited March 26, 2001).]
You're quite right. I'm sure it's alot easier to teach an artist how to use a computer than it is to teach a 'computer geek' to use a paintbrush, at least with any degree of artistic flair! I would have loved to have seen the show.
I also agree that with the global, all-encompasing power of the PC these days, it would be totally ignorant to ignore the benefits it has to offer to students.
I think the problem lies in combining the computer into art college programs without making digital art seem sterile to the kids.
Think back; when you were young, how much fun was messing around with dirty, colourful paint?!
03-27-2001, 06:19 PM
One of the things that the show talked about was how CG artists without a background in art tended to produce work that was "flat" or sterile as you say. I don't have much of a traditional education in the arts myself, and it shows. Because of time contraints, I've been using computers as a way of "fast-tracking" my traditional art education. As an example, I could NEVER figure out how artist's blended oils or acrylics to give a smooth transition in shading. Every thing I read translated to "you do X until it looks good." They didn't spell X out, unfortunately. I banged out a method for blending based on Gouroud shading, one of the methods used in CG, figuring that I could reverse engineer what I knew about the algorithm into a hand generated version. It was great to discover that I had ended up with something every art student takes for granted!
There are some really talented CG artists on the net, (<a href=http://www.goodbrush.com">Craig Mullins</a>) that could serve as inspirations.
You wouldn't be teaching classes by any chance?
"Art is anything you can get away with." -- Marshall McLuhan
Some of this Craig Mullins stuff is quite amazing. I could be some time examining his site...
It's interesting that you've learned the practical side of art through theory. Personally, I don't know if I could hold a paintbrush if nobody had showed me how!
I don't teach...yet. Just training to. Thus my interest in this topic. Don't get me wrong, the computer has so much potential, both in the education and application of art. I just hope that people still have the desire to play with paint when they realise they don't have to clean their brushes and palette (and clothes, and carpet, and pets *lol*) anymore.
Ceci n'est pas une pipe
[This message has been edited by jc77 (edited March 28, 2001).]
Interesting topic you've posted. I wonder if your question about computer use in schools has more to do with artmaking or technology. I understand it to be the former. With this in mind, I believe that the computer is an important artmaking tool that students should have the opportunity to experiment with (along with paint, collage, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, design, photography, video, etc.) and that students should have the opportunity to choose a medium/tool that speaks to them on a personal level.
I approach the computer as an artmaking tool first and foremost. The fact that there is technology involved is secondary to my objective. By the way, I also use paintbrushes. True that computer literate people can take courses in artmaking, and I think that's really great, but I don't think this is core point you've raised. I believe the point is you've got a school system that doesn't currently encourage computer based artmaking (for whatever reason, perhaps because computers cost the limited school budget more than paintbrushes) and you're wondering if there should be room in each year's budget to allow for those resources. This is timely since most schools finalize their capital expenditures in March.
Also, I think that K-12 students are as worthy to use the computer as an artmaking tool as post secondary students currently are. If you've ever seen a young child paint and open herself to the medium, and approach painting in such a personal honest way, and be direct with the process of artmaking, then you would argue that children are the best artists amongst us. Give a child a computer and let her show you how to use it as an artmaking tool. We can learn a lot from kids.
03-30-2001, 04:49 PM
The question here is not if but when they should be introduced to the computer as a tool for producing art. For instance, I don't think oil medium is a good one for a beginner to attempt either. It is important to learn fundemental skills and basic training of the hand eye coordination, learning to see, right brain thinking, color theary, composition, etc. The computer is a very powerful tool and it is easy to make things happen by using special effects, built in filters and machine drawing effects. This does not an artist make! I have worked as an art director in digital art production studios for over 10 years and I can tell you emphatically, there is big difference between an artist that learned traditionally and one that just went right to the computer in terms of what they produce. It is easy to have the computer start dictating style to you if you don't have skills to get around it. I good example of this is what I call the Bryce art. Bryce has such a noticable style that every artist that uses it finds that they end up with art that looks, to accertain extent, like every other artist that uses it. This is the computer dictating the lack of freedom the programmers put into the aplication and not understanding the kind of tools artists need to be truley creative. When you truely see the computer as a tool that you can control and make it do what you want it too, then it is time to tackle it. It is an illusion that computer art is easier than other mediums. it is easy to do what applications do in an automated way, but it is not easy to really apply creative art production to that environment. In fact, if you look at the applications that really provide that degree of freedom, I would say they are pretty hard to master. I have done oils, acrylics and watercolors and I say digital medium is every bit as challenging and requires no less practice, skill, and education than any other medium and may actually require more. I say you won't have that ability to master computer art until you spend at least a few years learning how to draw, design, and see. It is too easy to be seduced by the buttons and forget about painting!
Some very valid and interesting points have been made since I last logged on.
Fig, did you learn to draw with the pencil before the pixel? If so, do you think this was invaluable in your artistic progression or do you think that a child, given a computer at an early age, would have the same potential to become a observant and skilled artist?
Personally, I think schools need to be very careful atwhich point they introduce the digital medium to children.
Gene, I totally agree that some mediums should be inroduced later than others. The oil painting point you made illustrates this well. It is a difficult medium to master and if you let a kid use this before they use a pencil, for example, you simply don't give them enough practise at the basics for them to learn anything. I think they would get impatient and lose their inspiration.
I think the same goes for using computers in the class-room. I think that as a resource they offer so much - on-line galleries, a chance for their work to be 'published' on a school web-site etc. - but as a medium, careful thought needs to go into its application. Walk before run and pencil before PC.
Ceci n'est pas une pipe
jc and Gene,
Yes, I drew with the pencil before the pixel. There were no computers to draw with in schools in the 1960's. I didn't have this choice because the technology wasn't there. Yes, I developed my art skills by using the media available to me at that time.
The point I was trying to make by saying that students should have the opportunity to use computers as an artmaking tool, is that if the tool is used to encourage and develop seeing, expression, composition, etc. then, why not use it? Does it matter which road students take to develop these skills in the end? Is the road not a personal choice for any artist?
Of course, the teacher is what makes the difference between teaching art and teaching technology. I am not suggesting that computers should be taught with special effects, filters, clip art, etc. as its focus. And programs used for professional graphic art would not be suitable for a very young student's art education. But there are basic drawing/painting programs with which a student would be able to use and develop her art skills. These basic programs give the user the opportunity to experiment with line, shape, color, composition, personal expression, etc. easily. I have seen this happen.
One benefit I have found from using the computer as an artmaking tool is the ease by which I can experiment and draw things, and then change things if I want. The computer encourages me to experiment in a new way. I think experimentation is key to a student's art education as well. School aged students learn by trying things out. I think the computer encourages this experimentation.
I think students should have a range of media to choose from. This includes paint. This includes pencil. This includes clay. This includes collage. This includes the computer.
As adults, we approach computers differently from children. Children are much more immediate and responsive to marks and images on a monitor. Adults who first use a computer tend to get caught up in the technical limitations of the medium. I am trying to think of artmaking from the child's perspective. The children I've seen using a computer for artmaking are open and focussed on the image, not the technology.
jc and Gene, you make several really good points to which I completely agree with. Do you think there is a different approach to teaching art to adults, who have already been processed through the education system, and teaching art to children? (besides the cleaning up of spilt paint on clothes, etc.) Do you think that children are currently being taught art skills well in schools? It seems like there is a relatively small percentage of students completing school with an appreciation for art.
I don't know if I've travelled outside the digital forum's intended focus, but I couldn't leave my opinions inside my computer.
Don't get me wrong. I totally agree that, as a resource, the computer has so much potential in the teaching of children. Basic composition and colour skills, like you point out, can be easily explained through such a device. They can be used as a Virtual Gallery, a teaching resource for educators and even as a place where students work can be displayed. My fear is simply that traditional techniques in the actual production of art may be sacrificed at too young an age and therefore fail to develop to their true potential. In some cases at least. My ideas are not set on this topic, which is why I raised it in the first place. It is very interesting to hear your views.
I think that the teaching of anything to adults needs to be done in context of their individual circumstance. Again, I agree that too many adults, art teachers included, fear the technology because it is NEW.
The important thing to establish is balance. A balance between utilising the best of the computer against ensuring the continuation and appreciation of traditional art. A balance between a child's age and the mediums it has access to. (I'm not saying we should deny anyone anything, but ensure they don't just use a PC from day one).
Hmmm, even as I type my mind is thinking ahead and finding new avenues for exploration around this topic. I'll keep in touch and thank you for your views. Very well expressed at that.
Ceci n'est pas une pipe..c'est une post
04-27-2001, 11:39 AM
Now that we're back online I'm pulling some posts to the top. Let's try to get some of these conversations rolling again...
Everybody else said this far, far better than I could. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif But, I figured I would try and revive this excellent topic.
JC77, you still around?
-=- Jen "CPR" de la Cruz
Oh yes, still around Pixelscapes.
With regards to this post, I think most angles have been covered - or am I just currently in a lazy mood??? http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Me thinks so... I have just been offered a place in a teacher training college so this time next year I shall be testing the theories discussed here on REAL kiddies! Time to experiment... I shall place one child in one corner of the room with a pencil, and one in the other with a PC. I shall then leave them there for twenty years and see the results!
Place your bets as to which one will be the better artist http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif
Ceci n'est pas une pipe..c'est une post
04-27-2001, 01:02 PM
Place my bets? Hmm... well... I think the one with the computer will be a better artist. Why? Being cloistered to a corner for twenty years without seeing the world could cause problems for the kid who only has a pencil... but the kid with the computer could come to WetCanvas!
Or in a worst case scenario, the kid with the computer will become a brilliant computer programmer and/or Quake tournament champion, and make more than enough money to take art lessons after the twenty year sentence is up. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif
-=- Jen "It's elementary!" de la Cruz
04-28-2001, 12:30 AM
I like to give the kids a chance at both. We always have paper to draw on. (No premade coloring books in my home) We also allow them to play on the computer. I open up Photoshop for my daughter and let her go for it. She has discovered filters and all kinds of goodies on her own. (Age 6) The other kids arent as interested in art on the computer as she is, but I have 3 drawing fools out of 6.
I just downloaded Adobe Atmosphere, which seems to be pulling my non drawing son in pretty well. He is the one that likes to take things apart and put them back together. The 3D building environment seems to be much more his ballgame.
I think that having both traditional and technology around them gives them more opportunities to explore their creative side. Of 6 children, I hope and pray at least one becomes an artist! Lord knows I am trying.
05-01-2001, 07:17 PM
Ok now I will switch gears and make what I think is a most compelling argument for kids to work with the computer vs. traditional mediums. It is the toxic environment of most mediums. Paints, solvents, glues, dust, etc. are all very dangerous things for children and the computer avoids alot of this while still letting children learn. When they get old enough to handle the traditional mediums resposibly they will be ready for them or they can just continue to go digital. The effects of chemicals on artists is often not discussed enough and should be an important consideration in the educational environment.
Well, there are precautions that can be taken against the chemicals present in all too many of todays mediums (latex gloves, face masks, etc - but admitedly, they very rarely are. However, I don't think hours spent staring at a computer screen is especially healthy either, I know my eyes get tired and I get the occasional headache.
I do think your point is very valid though and I don't think the dangers of irrating and polluting paints etc are universally known. Do you have any stats to back up your argument Gene? I only ask because I would like to know how big an issue this is and, when I start teaching art in Sept, I don't want to toxicate my class!
Ceci n'est pas une pipe..c'est une post
05-04-2001, 12:34 AM
Well I do know of many offhand, but I can do some reasearch and provide some more info for you if you want. The most common are the solvents used like terpentine, benzine, acetone etc.. Touluene is used in a lot of glues and is commonly sniffed by kids. Causes brain damage and blindness It is extremely dangerous. Permenant markers also contain nasty solvents along with whiteout and can be sniffed.
Less known are the pigments in many paints. They keep them out of paints that are sold exressly to kids, but art grade paints do not have these safe gaurds. All the heavy medal paints are toxic, like cadimium and cobalt, lead white, chromium and so on. Vermillion is EXTREMELY dangerous and can even penetrate the skin. Be espcially careful of kids puttting their fingers in the mouth our eyes with paint on them, or eating with paint covered hands. Be also aware that these pigments can exist in colored pencils and chalks as well and the dust can be easily enhaled. It is common for pastel artist to become poisoned. It is good idea to teach them of the hazards and how to develop good working habits to avoid very serious health consequences later on. Many of the effects build up slowy and can cause permenant damage.
I admit the computer has hazards too, but none quite so severe and can easily be avoided.
Hope this helps
05-14-2001, 10:34 PM
There are actually quite a few educational programs being offered for those who would like to take digital art classes. These classes take a look at both the use of the tool and art. Go to the Digital Arts Group under the RESOURCES section in EDUCATION and you will find that the Mendocino Art Center is one. There will be more listed online soon but if you want more, try your local city Art Institute or Museum. Most big cities are now offering courses for children and adults. Although it would be nice to jump ahead 5-10 years when there are MANY classes to choose from! http://www.digitalartsgroup.com
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