December 16, 2015

Sometimes I like to pretend I know how to draw

I know enough about art to know that I am a terrible artist. But that's okay. Some people dedicate their lives to mastering the skills, tools, and medium of art. I never had the patience or the discipline. In all honesty, one of the reasons I have always found photography to be an exciting and fascinating hobby is because it allowed me a way to communicate visually without the hard work it takes to learn drawing and painting. Nonetheless, sometimes I feel like sketching out a half-formed idea to see if I can come up details not readily available when I write. For example, trying to describe the surface of the moon without resorting to arcane scientific language and elaborate astronomical terminology. It's much easier to photograph the moon or paint a picture of it than it is to describe it in words. Unless the moon is fulfilling some kind of metaphorical role, of course, in which case it serves quite well in poetry, songwriting, and fiction without a detailed description of the craters, mountains, refracted light, and other features.

Since carrying around a bag full of art supplies is silly just for an occasional sketch, I downloaded a drawing program onto my Kindle Fire. The program is called, "Paint Pad HD" It is free to download and use. Here are the four pictures I have drawn so far. Each is followed by a brief description of how they came about.

This is December, Christmas season, so the first picture I drew was a Christmas Tree. This image was mostly intended just to familiarize myself with the program's interface. I was happy to find the interface completely in line with standard interfaces for Windows drawing programs. It lacks many of the save features, crop features, and so on that are standard nowadays, but it works perfectly well for creating one image at a time and saving it. The pictures are saved in PNG format and they include information that allows the program to run them as a short video showing each step of the creative process. I don't find the movie aspect useful, so once I offload the PNG onto my computer I convert the image to JPG, which deletes the animation information.

For my second picture I wanted to draw a winter campsite under a full moon. The first and most annoying problem I encountered was my inability to accurately target small strokes of color or darkness as accents. After I finished this picture I decided I was definitely going to have to find a stylus that worked with the Kindle touch screen. This turned out to be a much more difficult proposition than you might imagine! I don't know the technology of the touch screen. I do know that most narrow point stylus have no effect at all while the soft point stylus are no different than using a finger. Since I needed a narrow point stylus that worked on an interface designed for fingers, I could not find anything online that I could trust. Reading reviews did not help because most of the stylus designed for manipulating a touch interface are designed for use with mobile phones and no one who wrote the reviews mentioned trying to draw or write!

While I was pondering the problem of finding a suitable stylus for drawing on the Kindle Fire touch screen, my son came home for a visit. He wanted to go to Shinjuku to look for accessories for his brand new Microsoft Surface 4, so we went to an electronics shop. I happened to have my Kindle with me, so after he finished his shopping I went by the stylus display and began experimenting. It took quite a bit of searching to find a stylus that not only worked with the Kindle touch screen, it was easy to use and comfortable in my hand. This more detailed campsite was the first thing I drew with my new stylus.

Today I watched the Republican Presidential Debate on CNNj. This was, without a doubt, the looniest presidential debate I have ever seen. The candidates were arguing with one another like school children. It was embarrassing to call myself a Republican. Not only were they acting crazy, some of the ideas they were tossing around were completely unconstitutional. Almost every idea debated today, regardless of the candidate, would require expanding the size and reach of the federal government and increasing the cost. Even the anti-establishment candidates were proposing ideas in line with the old guard Republican Party. It was quite shameful. So naturally I drew a full moon in response!