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Embracing New Technology as an Artist

by Pamela Poole on 4/1/2013 9:05:03 PM

Tablet For Reference Photos
Tablet For Reference Photos

For artists and other creative people, it seems that it is no longer relevant to think in terms of whether or not to take advantage of technology.  We must, if we are to function in any meaningful way with life outside of the studio.  The thinking process now becomes: which technologies work best for our brand and personality, what can we afford to invest in for expenses, and how can we plan our time spent on technology so that none is wasted that should have been spent with a paintbrush? Most of us cannot have a personal assistant to take care of this for us, so we must determine what we are willing to do, then make a commitment to follow through.

All the ways to take advantage of new technology and social media for the business side of an artist's life fill many other blogs written by those who are more savvy than I am.  Some of my goals as an artist this year included adding some new technological tools and online venues for sales, which I have already accomplished with good results in the 3 months since I began. This blog will focus on a new tool for the studio.

When my husband gave me a Samsung tablet for Christmas, I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it!  Sure, it does a lot of terrific things, some of which are very useful and some of which are time wasters.  It has a good camera capability, and I wanted to use it on a small easel for a photo reference, saving printer ink and taped printouts that curl up and get in my way.  True, I had to bite the bullet and learn to use features like zooming and cropping, but the icons are very simple and in minutes I was ready to work.

In the example for this blog, I've shown the photo of the way I currently work with the tablet.  I have not yet downloaded any of the reference images I've saved in many folders on my laptop computer--that's a lesson for another day.  I am only using photos that I've taken with the tablet, so they are easily found. First, I do a value thumbnail with Prismacolor markers in shades of French gray.  I try to limit value range to 3 or 4 tones.  I work as long as I can with only the value sketch, not locking myself in to the details and original colors of the reference photo.  In finishing, however, I turn on the tablet, find the image,set it in a small easel, and look over at it from my easel to make any adjustments. Typically, I will plan for the painting to represent a recognizable location for collectors. 

This photo was taken at a local lake with a pier that intrigues and entices me, with pilings that are not consistent in height that give it personality.  The finished painting may be seen at "Lake Pier at Optimist Farm."

tammy via 17 months ago

That is almost exactly how I set up my tablet for photo references - I'm so happy to see I'm doing it the same way a real artist does!

Pamela Poole via 17 months ago

Hi, Tammy! I love hearing from others who are doing this. Do you have any special tips about this process that you've found to be helpful? One thing that breaks my concentration is to have to touch the screen again every now and then to keep it from sleeping, but it does keep me from relying on the photo much.

Tammy via 17 months ago

Hi Pamela! I sometimes have the same complaint as far as having to periodically touch the screen to keep the photo up. As a very new beginner though, I find that my paintings don't usually end up looking much like my reference photos at all anyway so only checking the screen occasionally for basic general guidance seems to work okay for me so far at this early stage in my painting life. ;-)

Tammy via 17 months ago

Almost forgot! If you want to keep your tablet "awake" longer, you can go into settings under applications and adjust the sleep time. Mine defaults to sleep after 1 minute of inactivity but can be adjusted to quite a bit longer. Hope this helps.

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