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I'm very pleased to announce that thanks to all of your votes I am one of the two winners of the Anata Gallery art contest for May 2011!  With the help of all of you who voted for me my work will now not only be featured in their gallery book but also be appearing on the cover of the book which means terrific exposure that money can't buy! I thank each of you who took the time to vote for me, to have your friends & family vote for me as well; it means a great deal to an artist to have that kind of public support.

art book cover

Check out these excellent art-related articles to help any artist- no matter their skill level- broaden their thinking & horizons.

Music & Art

I know what you're going to say. "Mike, music is 'art'." And you would be correct in that assumption. What I'd like to talk about here though is how one uses music while creating other kinds of art such as paintings, sketches, sculptures; the list is endless really. I've always found music to be an important ingredient in any art. Even back in my eighth grade art class I remember our teacher allowing us to listen to the radio during class when we were working on projects; sometimes she'd even allow us to bring in a cassette, for those unfamiliar with cassettes, they were the big thing before cd's came out. Actually cd's were already available but our teacher only had a tape deck on her small stereo so you work with what is available (hehe).

Listening to music while creating art doesn't just make the time go faster, it also can be very inspirational; I've actually found myself at times while I'm painting & listening to music that I'll move my graphic tablet pen in tune to the music I'm listening to; I won't even notice it for several minutes and then when I do notice it, I think "wow that's cool, it's making the painting come along faster".

You might ask what sort of music is best to listen to while working on art. Well I donít have any stats or anything fancy like that to show any particular type is better for the creative process than another. As far as Iím concerned, music is like the art youíre creating; what works for you might not work for me and vice versa. I believe that the type of music thatís best to listen to while working on art is the same kind you listen to when youíre working out, when youíre in the car, when youíre cooking, whatever the case may be.

In my case, I like many kinds of music, from Goth Symphonic metal to classical music and Iíll listen to most kinds that I enjoy at various times while Iím working on art. Iíve found Goth Symphonic metal is great to pump me up in the morning when Iím getting started on my work or when a particular painting or drawing is giving me problems, the Goth Symphonic metal helps get me pumped just enough that I can usually overcome the obstacle Iím facing at the time. I also will listen to 80ís music when Iím working and it works just as well. What I have found is that the kind of music isnít as important as what it stirs within you; if, dare I say it, country music, which I canít stand, inspires your creative side, listen to that, if you find that listening to Mozart helps you to sculpt a masterpiece, go with it.

The more you listen to music or watch a music video you will find that at times those sources might actually give you an inspiration idea for a new project. This has happened a few times with me over the years where a particular song or video Iíve watched will give me the start to a painting idea that I hadnít thought of before and I try to incorporate the feeling the music gave me in my painting. Often times Iíve also had this kind of experience when creating a new design for my gift stores. Whether itís a special phrase in a song, a cool moment in a music video, or sometimes even a chord in the song that hits me, all of these things can be sources of inspiration for graphic designing, painting, drawing, etc.

Author : Mike Sexton
Copyright 2011
All Rights Reserved
Please do NOT reprint this article unless you have my permission, thank you.


A New Kind of Digital Art

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "digital art"? Do you think of images filled with numbers, random geometric shapes, wild colors that make you feel like you've been in front of a camera's flash bulb going off? I can't say I blame you as that is what many perceive digital art to be and in a large part it is. By using computer programs artists are able to come up with geometrical, colorful designs that blow the senses and in many ways correspond to the old-fashioned abstract paintings and sculptures that have been around for a long time now. These kinds of art make the viewer think, it lets them imagine whatever they want when they look at it because it's rare that two people will see the same thing or get the same idea from an abstract piece of art and this is the same thing that happens when viewers are looking at digital art that is of this nature.

Iíd like to introduce you to a new kind of digital art; I call it ďdigital paintingĒ and it is the style of art that I work with the most. What I call digital painting is using a computer graphics program along with a graphics tablet and pen. Yes itís true, when you use a program you can use a whole array of filters that are available, both free ones and commercial filters but I prefer to paint using mainly the graphics tablet and pen along with the program of choice; in my case I use the Paint Shop Pro program. There are many programs out there, both free such as GIMP and pay-to-use programs including Photo Shop but Iíve found that Paint Shop Pro works well and it doesnít break a personís bank account. On occasion Iíll use one of the filters it comes with or that Iíve collected over the years but I mainly do that when Iím designing graphic designs for my website, a clientís site or designing for my clothing and gift stores. I use the included brush types to paint with and just as a regular artist uses smudge tools, erasers and the like, I use the smudge tool and similar tools while Iím painting to give my subject matter life, to make it look like a regular oil, acrylic or water color painting. Itís amazing how when you work with a tablet and pen you can create realistic brush strokes just as you would if you were using a painting palette and brush; you find yourself doing the same sort of movements with your hand and wrist that you would do if you were using the regular tools. One of the best things Iíve found by painting digitally is the way you can create different layers so you donít have to completely throw away a painting if you mess up. Now, donít get me wrong, Iíve actually had several experiences where I had to throw out the entire painting and start from scratch but in general youíre able to correct mistakes youíve made much easier than when you use a canvas and paint. And itís amazing how many people wouldnít know my workís digital if I didnít tell them it was.

When I first began painting digitally, I used the same techniques I described above but I had to use my computer mouse to do it and let me tell you that after a few months of using the pc mouse to paint it definitely does a number on the wrist; plus I found that there are certain movements you just canít do with a pc mouse that you can do with a graphics tablet and pen on the computer. I always had a difficult time with any kind of spherical shapes when using the computer mouse; without using the vector tool that is built into the PSP program that is and since I prefer to paint digitally the same way I would if I were using a canvas and brushes I always felt it was cheating to use the vector tool to create circles and other spherical shapes.

When I first connected the graphic tablet and began using it, it took me about 2 or 3 days until I was comfortable with it because when you first use it, you have to get your bearings as far as where you are pointing to on the graphic tablet and how that corresponds to the computer screen. However, once I got the hang of that, I was absolutely in love with this tool! It lets you work so freely with your creations, and Iíve found that Iíll even use my bare finger on the graphics tablet to do the smudging and blending in addition to using the pen that comes along with it because you honestly feel like youíre working with a real palette and canvas when you paint with a tablet. For example, when you use a graphic tablet to paint digitally you can paint fur that is so much more realistic than with a pc mouse; when I paint any animal with fur, I apply each piece of fur strand by strand, one by one, I do the same when Iím painting birdsí feathers and dragonsí scales also; I paint the darkest layer first and then paint lighter layers on top of it to give the animal depth which is also what I do when I am painting the shadows on the animalís body as well as the bony areas that you can see such as the ankle joints and the like. Also, the shading you can accomplish, using a graphic tablet, on an animalís eye to give it real depth and authenticity is much more vivid and lifelike in my view than using a pc mouse.

Some critics state that digital painting isnít real ďartĒ but I have to disagree with them. The definition of ďartĒ as defined by dictionary.com website is, ďthe quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.Ē Now I will give you my definition of the word ďartĒ as I see it, being an artist myself, art means taking what Iíve experienced through living, taking examples from nature and putting that into something that can be viewed and shared by everyone. If I can capture the feeling I had when I saw a bald eagle flying or when I get upset by man trying to destroy our environment for greed, if I can capture that emotion and use it to create a painting that is ďartĒ. If I can take the sadness & anger I feel when I lose a loved one and use that energy to create a painting that is ďartĒ. The medium I happen to choose to express those emotions, those ideas is irrelevant. Now, when photography first emerged in the late 1880ís staunch art critics didnít view this as an art either but as weíve seen, itís viewed now as a major form of art with not just magazines using photographs but also museums devoted to photographic art as well. This is what I see happening with digital art and digital paintings; this form of art is a continuation of the never-ending evolution that is ďartĒ and I truly believe that in the future, digital art will be just as respected as the more traditional forms of art because believe me, itís no less difficult to master, no less temperamental to the creative process; the only difference is, it requires different tools than what many are used to when they think of ďartĒ.

Author : Mike Sexton
Copyright 2011
All Rights Reserved
Please do NOT reprint this article unless you have my permission, thank you.


Early Australian Art

The art of any culture is what helps to identify that nation as unique. Some of the first early Australian art works were done of Australian animals and flowers by those who came here on the first fleet Ė Joseph Banks and Sydney Parkinson. Paintings were not the only contributions; sculpture, engravings, lithographs and even architecture are included in the impressive line-up.

Of course, before they every arrived the indigenous peoples had their own art forms that they used to decorate bark, rocks and the walls of caves and indeed, their own bodies. Their art included sculpture and etching, weaving and string art.

The first-fleet artists were not even of Australian descent, but portrayed faithfully not only the flora and fauna of Australia, but the times and life that they experienced both upon arrival and afterwards. Amazingly enough, even though Australia was colonised primarily as a place to dump convicts from Britain, many artists did make their way to the new country. Some like John Eyre, came as convicts, but many others such as John Glover came as free settlers. And they all brought with them the styles of painting and art that were prevalent in Europe in their day Ė that is, realism.

The works of Australian artists have progressed through this early colonial stage to landscape, modernist and then contemporary. Out of these four it is the landscape era that is unique to modern Australian art. Australian artists tried hard to capture the difference of the Australian ambience to that of Europe, though some did try to paint Australian landscapes with the softer European light to better please the European artistic eye.

John Glover is credited with being the father of the Australian landscape painting era. He was already a successful artist in Europe and he retired to Tasmania where he started painting again and captured the Australian countryside so beautifully that he became twice famous.

Author: Thomas Dabila


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