Computer art appreciation

Friday, July 12, 2002

in the debate over whether images created with a computer deserve the same respect as paintings and other more traditional media, Louise Bodenheimer is not neutral.

"It's the same basic fundamental art-making that goes into creating no matter what medium you have," she says.

Judge for yourself. The exhibition at the Hirsch Community Room at the Cape Girardeau Public Library through July is the work of students in the summer computer art workshop Bodenheimer just taught at Southeast Missouri State University.

They worked for four weeks in the computer lab in the Serena Building on campus. The students included university art majors and interdisciplinary students, some art teachers returning to school to keep up with new developments, and at least one working artist.

Craig Thomas, who is known primarily for his murals and sidewalk chalk drawings, uses the computer primarily to create renderings for work he will later paint free hand. The computer art programs allow him to manipulate images and experiment with colors before he gets to a wall or even a sidewalk.

"We are lucky to live in the age we are," he says. "The stuff you can do on a computer is a time saver."

Computer art programs allow users to combine photographs, textures and drawings and to play with images and colors.

Ironically, the great number of options available on computer art programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator also are their potential drawback. "The user becomes enamored of special effects," Bodenheimer says. "Before you know it you have a really nice-looking background."

She teaches that every piece of computer art must have a focus just as a painting or drawing must, and she requires the same type of artistic rigor.

"To make judgments is real crucial," Bodenheimer says. "You have to have the eye-hand coordination to make discriminating decisions."

Though some art contests still exclude digital prints or media, more and more accept them, Bodenheimer says, especially since the introduction of archival inks in the new digital printers. Archival inks are designed to last longer and provide more color stability and photo-realism.

Southeast student Megan Thrower is pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in graphic design. Using computers to create art seems entirely natural to her.

"A lot of people don't consider it art and don't acknowledge it," Thrower says. "But it can be used to so many different advantages."

One of the pieces she did in the workshop will be used as a study for a painting she's planning.

You don't necessarily need to know how to draw to create computer art, Thrower says, but you do need to use artistic abilities.

"It all comes out of your brain. It comes out of your heart. It comes out of your creativeness," she said.

Thomas still prefers getting paint on his hands and clothes but says computer art demands the same kind of creativity and talent. "You work just as hard. It's a different type of tool. At the end of the day, your head hurts just as bad."

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