#59: SHADOWS & LIGHT (Vue)
(and other apps)


  Life can be an utter pain in the arse. Be it health, personal, emotional, spiritual, financial, political etc etc, it can really grind you down and screw you up! I think most of us know this ;)

  We all have different ways of dealing with the crap life throws at us, (and sometimes, it's our own silly selves throwing the crap!)
Turn on some music...go fishing...do silly stuff...whatever, we all try and have ways to chill out. Art is a good way of dealing with life's ups n' downs: not only can it be relaxing, it's both stimulating (learning and puzzling things out), and importantly, creative.
Being passive, like listening to music, or sitting by a beach is a great way to unwind, but, we also like and need to do things.

  Working for a living doesn't often give a great deal of personal satisfaction at making something right, something you care for. It's one of those pleasures that's not perhaps obvious, but we need it none the less: to do things we care about, to have pride in.

Doing something positive is better than sitting around with your thumb up your arse, which is no fun anyway ;) Instead, if you keep your mind busy, and the result is something you can take pride in, it's a lot better for you in many ways, than doing the same-old, same-old day-after-day.

Pebble River, an image I made with Mojoworld, a digital art program
Pebble River, small

  I've got M.E., also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or several other stupid names, what the names don't tell you is how bloody horrible it is. Physically and mentally you get ground down. Pain is never an easy thing to deal with, neither is sickness, nor mental problems, so when you get all three at the same time...ugh.

I usually fight back against an illness, or meditate, but they don't work on this son-of-a-b*tch illness: fighting = stress (stress makes you worse), and you cannot relax, so you cannot meditate. And in case anyone suggests it, no, you cannot do exercise to relieve "depression" for this illness, as exercise will make you severely worse, even kill you, that's one of the peculiarities of it...try doing exercise when you have the 'Flu and see what happens...*same thing* (and it is not a mental illness, it is not depression, though it often causes depression 'cause it's that damned bad, and damages your nervous system).

You still need to move, walk etc to keep your body "ticking over" at least, if you are able, or you can wind up even worse, but strenous exercises = big no no with M.E.

  So, one of the few things I've got left is art. Art is relaxing, I can do it without taxing myself too much, other illnesses would perhaps allow different art forms, but sitting at a keyboard is about a smuch as I can often do, so digital art it is, on a computer.

  You can be stuck in front of a computer by bad luck and ill health, but...you can sail across the stars in your imagination...imagine days when you were on the beach...the look of a first lover's face...these and other things can inspire and keep hope and life alive. From dreams, memories, pictures or whatever, you can have ideas that you'd like to create.

  But, how to create them? Everyone can find favourite forms of art: oil & canvas, hands and clay, acrylic and paper etc. I'll list most of the main ones and a few a lot of folk aren't aware of, or foolishly sneer at from pride. Always remember: there is *NO* "best" art form or medium, there is only what *you care for*, nothing else is important in that respect:  It's just what you like that counts.
Art is not a "pecker contest" over who's got the most expensive paint, brushes or whatever, that's strictly for idiots ;)

  I preffer digital art, I'll explain why, later on.

Kobold Canyons, an image I made with Mojoworld
Link to my Mojoworld section, image is kobold canyons small

  So, art as therapy...hm? Well, by taking your mind off pain, it can help (distraction, a great way to deal with pain, much safer than pain killers).
By letting you have a common interest to talk to other folk, you can meet folk, create friendships, learn, share and gain respect...respect is a coin without price, and you don't get it for free, it has to be earned.

  Making things, things you and others like, gives a sense of accomplishment, a sense of worth. While money is needed to put bread on the table, it does jack sh*t for making YOU feel good, it's like sugar: useful, but poisonous if that's all you have, it is not a "meal". Life is a whole lot more than breathing and eating or having the latest consumer goods.
As an aside, more we learn, more we realize your mood can affect your health, positively or negatively. If you feel good, you tend to be healthier. If you do things that make you feel good...you will probably get a direct health benefit, for those who don't like intangible advantages like "pleasure, respect" etc ;)

  Doing things actually improves your brain. Your brain is like a muscle, exercising it improves it, as it learns new things, it adapts and gets better. However, you can also damage it by trauma (horrible events etc) or not letting it rest when it needs to.

  We've all got ONE life, it stretches from Birth to Death, so you'd best make use of it while you've got time! As the saying went on an old kids TV program in the UK "Stop watching TV and go do something less boring instead!", hehe ;)

You may as well try things while you can. Art does NOT jump into your lap and do it all for you, it takes time to get good, but you'd be surprised what you *can* do: most of any skill is having the determination & time to actually do it, and keep learning.
I didn't learn this stuff over night, ya know, nor did Rembrandt or anyone else. So don't worry if yer not great now, just doodle away and learn. Find what art form interests you. Doesn't matter what anyone else think, be it lace doiley making, or bronze casting!

  Art can also let you express your own inner demons and nightmares, we've all got 'em. I like making fantasy art, as it's often about the "good guys" beating the "bad guys", as I have a real loathing of the abuse folk suffer, so I like seeing the good guys walloping the crap out of scumbags ;) Not only is it a hell of lot safer than actual combat, it's a damn sight more useful. Violence and hate are pure poison, much better to let them out in useful ways, or on a football or the like! ;)

  Also, I loved the heroics of actors like Burt Lancaster, Errol Flynn and the Ray Harryhausen films, so I want to re-create that sense of wonder, humour and high adventure! Beats watching some twerps moaning about boring mundane stuff in "Eastenders"...we get enough of that in real life anyway, so why watch MORE of that soul-destroying crap, eh? Go make some art instead! :)

MAN-O-WAR 2007, an image I made with Vue and Rhino programs
Man-O-War 2007

  • Oil Painting, this is a classical tradition and produces very vibrant, rich paintings. However, it's expensive (some of the pigments are very costly as they use rare materials), smelly (turpentine and oils stink, though that can be reduced to an extent using special alternative materials) and requires plenty of room to let the paintings dry safely (takes weeks for an oil painting to dry properly, sometimes months).

  • Sculpting, alas, this one is very difficult for most folk, as it requires a degree of manual strength (for larger pieces or stone carving), plenty of space, and very bulky blocks of stone or clay etc. However, most arts made with the hands are very enjoyable to do, almost like exercise.

  • Pottery & ceramics, this often requires a kiln to fire your work, which is tricky to get or arrange. But again, it's physically pleasing to do and your work can be useable (plates, cups etc).

  • Acrylic Painting, cheaper than oils and not very smelly, still a bit expensive for some of the paints. Note that many folk paint in acrylics and oil on hardboard or other surfaces you wouldn't expect, that can be cheaper than canvas! Acrylics dry very fast, and while that means you don't have worries about leaving them to dry, they can dry so fast it's harder to mix and blend the paint on the canvas.

  • Miniature Painting, there's quite a large hobby based around painting miniature soldiers and fantasy figures. Anyone who thinks it's not art obviously hasn't seen some of it! Very amazing pieces of work, especially for such small objects. However, the small size, detail etc can be a strain on the eyes and patience.
One of my miniatures, it's about an inch high!
drow, a dark elf (evil elf) miniature
  • Textile crafts, there's a whole variety from knitting, leatherwork to lace making. Many do require good manual dexterity due to the intricacy of the work. But, you can wear your own work, very useful! ;)

  • Woodworking, from cabinet making, to woodturning on a lathe, to carving. Wodoworking is messy and requires a workshop or room, but the results are usually very practical, from cabinets to fruit bowls.

  • Glass art, mostly glass blowing and stained glass. Glassblowing is mostly not something you'd do in the house! It really requires an outhouse for it, or workshop, where as making stained glass can be done without lead, using paints on normal glass if you wish. Both can create fantastically beautiful items.

  • Toy making, some folk like making fabric or wooden toys, or recreating ones of times past.

  • Model Making, similar to miniture painting, ah, I loved making Airfix kits of aeroplanes and ships! ;) Some dioramas (scenes) made from these models are amazing.

  • Lapidary, that's the art of polishing semi-precious stones, like quartz you may find on a beach.

That's just a few, so "art" is a lot more than just painting & pottery! ;)

  Digital art is my favourite form of art to create with, currently. Digital art requires a computer & software, which can be expensive, but, it doesn't take up much room, doesn't spill paint on the floor, you can undo mistakes and for folk who're physically limited, well, you don't have too move much apart from your fingers ;)

  My previous "tutorial", An Introduction to Digital Art, gives info on the subject.
Personally, I can barely draw a stick figure, never mind sketch a person! ;) Thus digital art lets me work around that, but it still requires time and effort to learn: patience as always, is a virtue.
Digital art won't make truly good work without *your effort* The closest thing to a "hit the button and make a beautiful picture!" you can get to, is to load up a world in "Mojoworld", and render that, but it won't be a personal creation, as you will not be able to make the image YOU desire, not without a lot of work. But it certainly can produce spectacular images with little effort, definately worth testing a demo version just to see what it can do!

  Digital art can let you use your brain and tools to "get around" things. If you can't draw a person worth a toss, like me, you can use "Poser" or the like, to make the person, or take them as a basis for sketching on top of. So, in digital art, you can find many different ways of solving a problem, you are not just limited to "clay", or "oil paint" etc, it's mostly down to imagination, skill and knowledge.

  I can back my work up onto DVD, in case of accidents, and share it across the Internet, which isn't possible with the creations of normal art (only with their photographs). The Internet has many communities for all forms of art, always remember that, great way to learn and make friends :)

  Folk with limited mobility can use digital art to do things that would be hard on them, otherwise, as you only need to move your fingers. The medium is also *full* of variety, from beautiful, abstract fractals, to fantasy sword and sorcery, to science fiction, to landscapes, to flowers to cartoons...you name it! The body maybe limited, but the mind can still soar! Oh, and I know that M.E causes "brain fog", oh yeah I know ;) but avoiding stress and reaching an even "plateua" will help. ("Brain fog", like having a perpetual hangover, ick, makes it difficult to think)

Buzzsaw, a fractal image I made with Apophysis fractal maker program Buzzsaw, small

I hope you find this of use! :)

All original art, writing on this site, copyright of Steven James, "Silverblade the Enchanter" ©2012