What makes you click?

By H. Gay Allen


H. Gay Allen, a systems analyst/consultant and former professional photographer with an arts degree, has been creating art using computers for years. Her works are shown in juried shows, they win awards and are sold. But the real thrill comes from taking her original photography and exploring new possibilities. Click on her site link below.

Why do you spend huge increments of time, thousands of eye movements, large amounts of "butt-in-seat" duty and a gazillion mouse clicks, doing what ever it is you do to make art on the computer? Are you nutz? Many of my art friends have concluded that's exactly what we are. Little do they know!

Of course, we all agree, you have to be motivated and it does take a huge commitment to create in this way. But I believe that the investments (time, energy, dollars) are definitely worth it. Let's take a look at the evidence.

Since the first cave woman picked up a piece of charcoal or colored rock and converted her thoughts about life in those times into drawings on the cave wall, humans have been using visual images to communicate. Before there was an alphabet there were pictures. Before there were computers there were many other creative tools of choice: tea, henna, hand-ground oil paints, tempera, water colors, clay, metals, glass, crayons. And those are just a beginning of media used as things that are applied to two dimensional surfaces. And would anyone deny the popularity, success and downright awesomeness of three-dimensional offerings the likes of Rodin, F. L. Wright, Chahuly, or the sand paintings of the Tibetan Lamas? I can even see the allure of well done performance art and I understand, but do not participate in, the trend of using tattoos as body art.

So why is it that, those who choose the computer as our method/tool/medium of expression are willing to withstand being thought of as "nutz," or feeling that we are not totally understood by the "mainstream" art world?

Perhaps it's because, on the one hand, we have a huge sense of accomplishment for having mastered the technical; and at the same time, an enormous, insatiable craving for the thrill of the mysterious. That is why we click! It's that contrast; that feeling of power because of what we know and can do; mixed with the total exhilaration that comes from using that power to delve into the unknown and create new things. It's hard work, but the work just paves the way for the magic that happens.

As a professional photographer for the arts I knew my photographs were artistic (they were images that pleased, told a story, used light, shape and movement). I also knew what each was likely to look like after processing, because I had seen it in the camera. Now, I can let go of expectations, precedents, rules and limitations and absolutely "free fall" into my creativity. No reportage; no moody, lean and lost faces on the back roads of life; no having to look for the celebrated works of others to pattern after; and no more worrying about whether I'm using the tools correctly. I am. You are.

That is the message of the artistic computer age. It tells us not to be limited by materials and historical methods; not to give into other's expectations of us; not to worry about who and what is winning awards; but to forge ahead to the new, latch on to the power and never look back. Just keep on clickin!

H. Gay Allen's essay: What Is Art? Five Blind Men and the Elephant

H. Gay Allen's digital art website