Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Art or art therapy? (A plea for the real world)

In this day of digital everything, I'd like to make a plea for a little bit of the real world.

I've had several conversations lately with manycustomers about some interesting technological developments.
I've been told that in an effort to reduce the use of paper, many school systems will soon have children using a tablet for every bit of school work from an early age through high school. From now on kids will e-mail homework, and have the ability to access a huge variety of technology. In essence, I am not against this. I just wish there were a bit more balance.

Another complaint I have heard several times this summer, is that many of the upcoming generations can no longer read hand written cursive, or calligraphy. I know that some of it never was legible. Still it seems a shame. Some of you may be glad, if so I'd love to hear why.

There is this wonderful new world of digital art, which puts so many applications at your fingertips that you can paint, draw, airbrush, and animate images without even knowing how to hold a paint brush. You don't even need to know how any of it happens, and you can change colors without having to squeeze out another tube of paint.

Why would you ever want to buy all those art supplies, if one tablet can do it all? Why would you ever want to do more than just push buttons? Why would you want to have to put down a drop cloth, or make a mess?

Besides, digital art can be and often is - quite beautiful.
I just worry that something indescribable is lost here.
 Do you remember the silky softness of finger paints squishing between your fingers.
Art can have a physical visceral edge to it, and that can be part of the process.
   The sound of scissors munching through a creamy cotton paper, the soft deckled edge of watercolor paper, or the press of your hand into soft clay.
There is a magic to it.
Old masters mixed paint from the elements and were almost considered alchemists.
 Like the block print with it's subtle variations for each pull of the print. The happy accident of a double print that gives new movement, magic, and life to an image.
  Art has the vitality of life.
The element of surprise when the translucent watercolor flows into an unexpected and wonderful shape.

The more cynical folks (assuming anyone is even still reading at this point,) will say “Of course! She's just trying to make money selling her art supplies – she has a motive here!”

You're right. I do scratch out my living from a local art store. Art inspires me and keeps me sane.  Also, I am honored to employ a few wonderful, kind and knowledgeable local artists. We try to encourage emerging artists and sell their work through the store. (The local Artists get 70% Artists' Mediums Inc. gets a 30% commission.)

 Yes, I'll encourage you to buy art, framing, or even art supplies. The truth is, art supplies don't have to be expensive. You don't have to spend a lot of money to find your creativity.
Start simple.
 First there is the pencil. It costs less than a cup of coffee, will write on most porous surfaces, it is easy to transport, and operates beautifully even in zero gravity. It will draw when the power goes out, so when your pencil breaks, you still have the art!
 Just sketch!

-Chelsea Lindner
Artists' Mediums Inc.

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