A Blank Canvas

A Blank Canvas
The Definition of an Art Form

Russ Pitts | 17 Oct 2006 12:00
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And he hopes that you will do the same.

Hatcher is applying his love of art, games and design to one of the most innovative games currently in development, Bob Ross' The Joy of Painting for the Nintendo Wii.

"In Jan 2006 or so, [I] saw Bob Ross on TV and started checking out more Wii stuff, and it hit me that the Wiimote would be perfect for the game. ... So, eventually in March 2006, I contacted Bob Ross Inc. about wanting the license to make games based on Bob Ross' painting style. We came to an agreement and it's been on a roll ever since.

"Bob Ross Inc. offers classes for people to become instructors, and the instructors offer classes to the average ... person who wants to learn to paint like Bob Ross. Some of them, I'm sure, watched the TV show, got hooked, then just had to learn more and sought out an instructor. We are consulting with [the instructors] for the development of the game, and some of us are taking classes so we understand his style better.

"The Wiimote will be used just as if you were moving a paint brush doing one of Bob Ross' movements for his paintings. The same movements you see him do on TV, we are doing our best to see what the Wiimote can do to match them."

art form: noun. An activity or a piece of artistic work that can be regarded as a medium of artistic expression. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition)

Art is about life. It attempts to explain, to create and to destroy; to make us better than we are, point out our flaws, our strengths - our essential humanity. But art is not created in a vacuum. All art takes from what has come before, and all artists, in sharing their experiences through their work, inevitably share with us the art they themselves have seen and appreciated; passing down, in essence, the art that has moved them and the art that has moved the artist who made the art that has moved them.

The final result is a distillation of humanity's essence, filtered through the expressions of millions of creative souls who have inhabited the face of our planet since the dawn of time. Games, game art and game artists are no different.

"I try to take influence from as many different places as I can," says Mike Krahulik. "I keep a folder on my computer, and whenever I stumble upon an image I like, I just toss it in there. Then, when I need some inspiration I just open it up.

"I honestly don't collect much art. I have a few pieces from Stan Sakai and a couple from Stephen Silver. I do have tons of art books, though. I love hitting Barnes and Noble and buying the big picture books they always have in the discount section. You can grab huge books full of great photos and paintings for 10 bucks.

"I'd say my biggest influence is Stephen Silver. He's an incredible character artist, and I've learned a lot just from looking at his work."

"What I really love to do the most is CG lighting environments and assets," says John Enricco, "and one of the lead artists that I worked with in the past said that the best CG lighters he knows are the ones that can paint ... . Since then, I've been starting to get into digital painting for some of my personal projects. It's inspiring to look at the past masters of painting in their use of color and shading (one of my favorites being the Dutch master Vermeer) and see something that you can incorporate digitally in both 2-D and 3-D work.

"I have a couple prints up on the walls: the Disney movie Mulan, 'The Old Guitarist' from Picasso's blue period, and 'Yellow, Red, Blue' by Kandinsky, so my tastes are all over the place.

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