Thursday, December 6, 2012

The evolution of a species. Technology, Psychology and the Digital Game Industry

Today we live in a much different world from the one in which I grew up. There are so many more choices then there where when I was a boy. Technology and the pixel have changed the face of opportunity and set before us an abundant table of distractions.

When I was a kid a bat, ball and glove meant you would be outside for hours, getting exercise running bases in the fresh air with your friends and team mates. You would be developing skills of dexterity and eye hand coordination all the while practicing people skill, getting along with your fellow team mates and negotiating outcomes.
Now days this exercise is starting to be in part replaced by the new technologies that we have developed to make our lives function smarter and more efficiently. We have advanced ourselves into a mindset of interacting in two different worlds.
The “real world” that is and has always been the key to our survival; in which we eat, sleep and work, and the other in which we play. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to judging either, but rather in my role as an artist and social observer I am noting changes. Time will be the judge of weather we got it right or wrong. I am in fact in favor of this evolution.
Clearly, everyone wants to be involved in play on some level. We are all looking for the next best distraction from what appears to be the drudgery of life. Games provide much of this to the world, we are either players or observers in which case we are fans and in so being are playing emotionally, cheering on our chosen team or player to victory. This has been going on since the Greeks invented the Olympics so it is not new.
But, what is new is the sheer connectivity we have to our games.  The wireless connection and mobility to be part of them wherever we are. We can participate as fans from our work desk when the boss isn’t watching, or we can play them on our own as a participant in a virtual reality first person shooter. We can access our social life without ever touching another person and can represent our ego through an Avatar that is more to our liking then our real genetic self.
Games have been around forever, but today they seem to have a new and different driving force in society, as always they give us the distraction we so desperately seek and in so doing make our lives fun filled and rewarding. Don’t they?
I know computer games are fun, I play them, some are addictive and introspective. They draw me into the game-play, I loose track of time. I forget where I am and what I am supposed to be doing. I love it. There’s no way I can’t win this thing! I have got to get to the next level, conquer evil in a clearly recognizable form. Be a hero… now your talking!
Computer gaming weather you like it or not is here to stay and has become big business. There are great new careers in the arts, painters, illustrators people who can create have found an industry that loves them. The starving artist metaphor is gone. This is the brave new world of art expression and is why I love gaming so much. Animators, character designers, matte painters people who know how to express visions through the digital media all have a place in the game industry. Innovation, creativity and science are all coming together to bring us to the edge of a new way to experience the fun filled wonders of distracting the mind. 
Cell phones, tablets and such have freed us from the desktop. Apps both large and small now let us roam free with our games. There is no limit to where we can play now. Communication Satellites ringing the globe provide updates and downloads to anywhere on the planet. We take our games with us just to be sure that we have something to occupy ourselves when a moment of quiet boredom approaches. We are multi tasking one and all both work and play. 
Now this is the evolution of a species reprocessing how we find happiness. Good or bad it is here to stay and I for one am grateful for it on so many levels. I look forward to observing the game and what it will bring to our values as human beings. 
Real world or pixel it is all a game after all.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Coping with Change

I thought a few thoughts here would be helpful for any one who is going through a life transition like I am.

First be kind to yourself and to others. You may not be aware of your underlying feelings about the change you are going through. It takes time for the change to settle in and for the effects to manifest in your life. Give your doubts over to a higher power if you can not solve them yourself.

Next, Take care of yourself. Keep fit by working out, eating right and getting enough rest. These are important for good health and a sound body. Stretch out those muscles by taking walks or going to the gym for a swim. If you cant swim ride a bike. I like a walk in Nature because I do not even realize I am working out and I am enjoying my surroundings as I go.

And, Work on your skills, master new ones, improve your resume, build a website and talk to a lot of people about what you know and how much you love to work in your skills. After all you chose the path of your skills you must enjoy your work, so keep getting better, stay on top of technology and the advances being made in your area of knowledge.

Finely, go out and play, have some fun, share of yourself and give to others and let them give to you. Accept that you are changing and that nothing will be the same so give in to the new life you are embarking on. Walk it into the world with joy and confidence, you are not your past, you are not a story of what was or what is wrong, you are here in the moment, ready and open to possibilities. If you do opportunities will  rise and present themselves. You will form a new beginning.

These are the terms I use to transition in my life and they are working for me. I hope they can be of value to you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Looking for work

I must admit it has been a long time since I was looking for work, 17 years to be exact. I haven't had to describe what I do or how I do it. I haven't had to convince anyone of my abilities as they were demonstrated every day. I haven't had to talk about myself in ways that attempt to reveal my skills, my usefulness, my statesmanship, my ability to compromise or get along with others. These things have been clear to all I worked with and no bragging was necessary.

I find that now I need to think of all the value I can add to a job. I need to prove my skills and to tout accomplishments. What a pain in the ass this is. But there is no other way if I am to find my next job. Now I don't mind that all this is taking place, I am learning that over the years I have become someone of worth, I have great confidence and common sense and know that I can solve any problem I am faced with. So bring it on interviewers, ask me why you need me, I will give you a host of reasons. Give me the job and we both win. If it is not you then it will be someone else soon.

In the meantime you will find me in my studio working on my art. I have no time to waist. There is still so much to do and so little time to do it all. I could get use to this so don't wait to long or I may find myself locked in the studio not thinking about you and your needs. The muse is with me and she is lovely.

Friday, September 7, 2012

One door closes another opens.

When was it that I became dispensable? I am still the same person and with the same skills, only better with more practice and experience and patience then ever before. I have not changed in any way other then getting better with age? Yet now after 17 years I have been told my position no longer exists at the Art Institute of Seattle, along with 34 others I have been discontinued, disenfranchised and just plain dissed. (800 system wide)

I must now close this door so another will open. I will reinvent that which I already am, polish the armor, spruce up the resume and rebuild the portfolio. I loved my time teaching at AIS and will remember all my friends as I move of in a new direction. I wish them all well.

Now I go through the 17 years of papers and grade sheets in my desk and I remember all the students who's lives I have help mold. So many young faces eager to learn, looking to me for guidance. Many moved up and forward while others fell by the wayside. I look at the names on the grade sheets from years of teaching and can remember many of the people I have influenced. They are now successful in their lives. So much to let go of here. As I toss each piece into the whoop of the trash can I am lighter, letting go, closing the door on these years, I am feeling younger and free of so many responsibilities to this school. All that is left to say is goodbye.

 I would be remiss in closing if I did not add some facts that I have discovered... because you need to know...  my company exec's in all their corporate wisdom made the decision to reorganized and downsizing 800 lives to the unemployment line and at the same time took for themselves a bonus of $25.5 million dollars in a single year compensation for 2011-12 cycle. Rewarding their failing of leadership as they thrust themselves into the 1% of greedy bastards that only care about their own bottom line. I am glad to know that they will no longer determine my fate. I am done with them. I believe that what they did was a criminal act but if it wasn't against the law it was at the least immoral and unjust.

If you are on the fence, if you are unsure of who should lead this country ponder the fate of the 800 family's that  are now looking for the next open door. I am going to vote for Barack Obama are you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Final Digital Painting

Last post showed the process I have been exploring... now I have completed the work. Notice the color shift, the use of advancing and receding colors. Yellow light pushes through the cracks in the wreck as a wisp of blue smoke drifts by. The Truck has been refined and the hills on the left have been shaped  and textured with a beach added.

I hope you like this work. It speaks of the end of the age of fossil fuels.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Art of Digital Painting

I am in the process of working on a new digital mat painting, I must admit that it is an exciting adventure, the only thing that is missing is the smell of oil paint for which I am nostalgic.

The digital world has changed contemporary painting dramatically. The romance is gone now, along with the loft studio in a romantic location, replaced by the cubical in an office or the hip workplace of a game company or movie production house. Long gone now are the smells of paint and turpentine, mixing colors to an exact consistency of transparency and liquidity. The chemistry of the medium... working with pigments, linseed oil, varnish and wax are fading into the world of the past and being replaced by the all mighty pixel. Sad to see it all go after a life well lived as a classic artist working in the tradition of paint.

Now, not being someone who would simply give up or be left behind by the dramatic technological advances of a new culture, I have chosen to embraced the pixel. I have seen the light of it's power and learned to mold it into the expression of my classical training. I am using the application Adobe Photoshop which is a powerful tool of pixel expression, one that has become the studio of today. The flexibility of the software and the tools of execution have over the past years become infinitely more sensitive and expressive, the addition of a Wacom tablet has added the feel of actually holding a tool that comes close to a brush. Digital photographic imagery offers a unique and time saving quality to the expression of digital painting by allowing paint and photo to become fused in a dance of brush strokes and the imagination.

Many will argue that using photos is cheating because the color pallet, perspective and proportion are already part of a photograph. But I take issue with this. As I do this work I am discovering that the challenge is in the unification of elements with over-painting and mixing photo parts and paint strokes into an evolved image that is not painted or photographic. The reward of this work is in the ability to try many approaches to solutions without damaging the work. The traditional painter does not have an undo for a poorly made mark, but the digital artist can add and subtract at will, color changes are a snap, as are scale and proportional adjustments. The ability to perfect forms, colors and even atmospheric changes in a dramatic way are now easy and possible. I am a believer in the outcome of expression as well as the journey one takes to get there. Pixel painting will never be the same as the real thing but it is highly likely the results will be better!
The starting image

Here now is what I have in process I say in process because changes are inevitable and easy to make, one digital painting provides the basis for an entire series of works and the evolution of an idea to it's finite resolution.
Stage 2

stage 3
This is the current stage of development at this time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January winter's descent

So here I sit in the my warm home being appreciative of all I have. Outside rages a cold winter storm, the roads are closed and all are huddled up to keep warm. Winter snow is beautiful, soft white pillows form on everything covering up the daily grime of the world. Life seems to slow down and take a breath. It is good that we are given this gift of snow, it's light brightens up the otherwise gloomy darkness of a northwest winter and light seems to win out over the cold, damp dark.

It makes me happy to recall how my old sweet dog Poppy use to run and play in it.