Any seasoned traveler can perform ‘travel math’ computations. ‘Florida summer weather pattern‘ plus ‘late night flight‘ equals ‘travel delay‘. Luckily, I had my sketchbook and pen with me to help pass the time. While my flight was delayed, I had the opportunity to sketch other people making connections.
Connecting with an iPhone
This morning, I took a break from my usual routine in the gym and headed out on my bike. When I’m working out in the gym, I’m either plugged into my iPod, or the TV. Today, I was unplugged. It was energizing to breathe in the fresh air, my senses being bombarded by the intoxicating fragrance of gardenias, magnolias, and jasmine. I could hear the Scrub-Jays and Sparrows warming up for a day of glorious song. The cool morning breeze wicked sweat from my brow. My head was clear. I wasn’t trying to come up with new project ideas, solve current issues, or worry about potential future problems. I was free. I don’t think biking gives my body the same caliber workout that I can get in the gym, but today, it sure was good for my soul.
“Unplugged”–Graphite–A quick sketch on scrap paper
Last night, I was sitting in my hotel room, checking my email on my phone, and marveling at the ability to stay connected through a device small enough to hold in the palm of my hand. With a few taps of the screen, I was able to call my brother, email my dad, post a photo on my Facebook page, and visit my blog on WordPress. The younger generations may take this incredible device for granted, but I grew up in the era of typewriters, corded phones, and busy signals. I was around for the birth of the answering machine, the cell phone, the digital camera, the personal computer, and the internet. I have great respect for technology and the gift of ‘connection’ it provides as I travel. While I can’t predict what the future of technology holds, I know it will surely keep me connected to my friends, my loved ones, my art, my life.
“Connection”–a quick doodle in my travel sketchbook–ink pen and watercolor
Once in a while, I’ll have an incredibly elaborate dream. I wake with it fresh in my mind, but when I try to tell someone about it, the details swirl away like water down the drain, and the dream falls flat. The vibrant colors, fascinating characters, engaging plot, rich symbolism, and enchanting settings end up sounding more like a bad elementary school production than the “must see movie” that played in my head the night before. Sometimes, the passion just doesn’t transfer from my imagination into the spoken translation of the dream.
And so it is with my art. I can envision an awe-inspiring idea in my head–see every detail with clarity and perfection, but when I attempt to put those details on paper, just like my dreams, they fall flat.
It’s one thing to draw a still life or portrait when the subject is sitting right before you, posing patiently. With perceptual drawing, the environment and lighting are carefully staged, and it’s easy to see where the shadows and highlights fall on the form. Sight measuring and triangulation can be utilized to ensure proper placement and proportions. But when the subject is in my head, it is vulnerable and can be lost or altered due to something as simple as a change in my mood. Perceptions shift as randomly as the scenes in my dreams, from orderly and logical to whimsical and nonsensical. If only my brain could communicate with my wireless printer! Then I could capture the image, print it out, and study every nuance as I reproduce it on paper. Right now, that’s nothing more than another dream…
So until technology can make that ‘brain to printer’ connection, my vivid imagination will just have to rely on my eyes, my hand, and a Faber-Castell 4B pencil.
Artists love to share their work with the world, and unfortunately for me, the best way to accomplish that goal is through the Internet. I, however, would prefer to continue on my ‘artist’s journey’ without being bothered by pesky little things like technology. Pencils, erasers, and paint brushes are the only tools I’m comfortable using, and they allow me to travel light. I don’t think my modest art supplies should have to share space in my carry-on with high-tech electronic gadgets.
I once read that artists should claim their ‘online presence,’ but that’s like asking me to set up shop in a foreign country when I don’t speak or understand the language. I can handle the basic stuff–email, word processing, even Facebook, but other than that, I am embarrassed to confess that I am technologically illiterate. There is no Rosetta Stone for technology, so I try in in vain to decode the mysterious language that younger generations speak so fluently. Alone in a foreign land, I struggle to communicate with the locals.
Luckily, my teenage daughter is a computer whiz who doubles as my travel guide while I stumble through the technology maze. She’s as comfortable with a keyboard as I am with a pencil. She has warned me to steer clear of the back-alley world of ‘virus-infected spam’ and helped me find my way back to files I thought were lost forever. I have only to call across the house and my travel guide appears, map in hand. Like a disgruntled traveler leaving bad reviews on Trip Advisor, my complaints are always the same: “It’s broken!” “I’m stuck!” and “The stupid computer’s not cooperating!” But how can I expect cooperation from my computer when we don’t speak the same language?
Last December, I made a vow to get current in 2012 and make peace with my foreign friend, technology. I traded in my not-so-smart phone for an iPhone, bought an iPad, downloaded photo editing software onto my laptop, and plugged in a tablet. I learned to copy and paste, manipulate images on Photoshop, and scan documents. I downloaded apps, created a “Tamberrino Art Studio” page on Facebook, and most recently, started blogging here on WordPress. I am officially on a technological roll! And the year’s not over yet!
I am no longer afraid of getting stuck or taking a wrong turn as I navigate through unfamiliar territory. I am exploring this strange new world and ‘clicking and dragging’ with unexpected bravery. Now that I am learning the language, technology isn’t so scary. In fact, I kind of like it! Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen? If I ever get lost on my technological journey, I know a great travel guide who can get me back on track. And even when she goes off to college, she can always email me a map.