Saturday, August 23, 2008

woMan on Wire

Went to see a matinee of "Man on Wire" yesterday afternoon in Encino. We shared a popcorn. I expected to snooze- it's a documentary on the man who walked on a wire between the World Trade Center buildings in 1974, an event that I was only dimly aware of. The movie was excellent. At one point my palms got exceedingly sweaty because of my fear of heights.

I bought an expensive book on the software Painter X. It is filled with illustrations and how the artists accomplished them. However, the explanations make me feel like it's 1956 and I'm watching Jon Gnagy on tv. He would have you draw one or two basic shapes, then do this business about just add a little detail, and the picture would be impossibly good. I especially remember his pumpkins.

God he looks so young. I remember he was an old man with a beard. But I was still a single digit.
I just noticed his videos are actually on youtube. Here's one. It's ten minutes. I haven't looked at it yet.

This book I bought made me mad because it was really written many years ago and updated by a technical editor who wasn't very careful. It cost more than $50. The author would refer to brushes that no longer are part of the software. Since I've done technical editing myself I get especially annoyed by this kind of mistake, and this kind of ripoff, which the "For Dummies" series is especially likely to publish. This book is called "Painter X Wow!"

Most of the samples in this book have that Jon Gnagy something's missing feeling, except,


Our own LINDA DAVICK is in the book-- I had no idea, just turned a page and all my anger melted away: Friend, Good. Linda says it's from a long time ago. Still a great looking illustration. And a clear explanation of how to get the effect.


Namowal said...

I have a mixed reaction to the Wow! book (Mine's Painter 8), but I always liked that picture, and remember, years ago, using that part as a reference for how to color things.
Ironically, it wasn't until recently that I noticed the artist was blog pal Linda herself!
As I've said elsewhere, I made the discovery thinking I bet Sally and Linda would like this artist. I wonder who it is...?

Marilyn Sholin said...

I am also in the Painter X Wow book on page 280. I was surprised when it came out that I was in it repeating what was in the previous book. I didn't know that when it published the first time, it would be used again and not updated (my materials I mean) but it IS an honor to be in one of Cher's books. Keep going through the book, there are some amazing artists in there and enough info to lead you in the right direction, but it does make it all look easy sometimes also.

stray g said...

I got the Painter X Wow! book because my illustrator friend from the newspaper where I worked recommended it. I started to look at the beginning and just never could get into it. I never set aside time to really work through it. Perhaps this fall? I didn't even get far enough to know Linda's art was in there!

Sally said...

marilyn, I'm glad you posted again because I wanted to look at your tutorials but after recent events have gotten a little lost even in my own blog.

To me, this rewriting of an older book is just another example of how word processors have hurt writing.

Major rant follows-- I mean it's major because it's something I've been thinking about for years now.

Before there were word processors, authors rewrote entire books. They didn't just pop out a paragraph here or a character name there. In the process of rewriting, something bigger occurs-- a subconscious intake of the entire material. So the books retained a unity and wholeness, as the author picked up insight into the story while rewriting it.

With word processors, and also the scarcity of really good editors, books and movie scripts lack a singular vision. Scenes are popped out, popped in, so easily.

The fault of Painter X as a book lies heavily with the technical editor, who should have been testing every example, but also with the publisher, cutting corners to maximize profit.

One thorough step by step example would be a much better way to teach the software than this Jon Gnagy approach. Though I did watch his video...

Linda said...

You call that a major rant? (your comment above.) You're telling it like it is. Maybe there is a lack of good editors who happen to be interested in software, but more likely the publisher wouldn't pay a good editor to edit the book.

Very interesting: "In the process of rewriting, something bigger occurs-- a subconscious intake of the entire material. So the books retained a unity and wholeness, as the author picked up insight into the story while rewriting it."

In GENERAL there's something incredibly powerful that happens when you put words down on paper, even if you're copying the words. If you're really not sure you want to gain insight into your life or learn things about yourself, don't write. It's what I do.

p.s. Gosh, I love those shapes above the Jon Gnagy painting! ...It's so funny that he looked like an old man with a beard to you back then.

stray g said...

When producing regular, repeated publication issues, it's a great timesaver to have an old issue as a template to work from. But it's incredibly difficult to catch errors; the eye seems to save snippets of text in cache, and it becomes difficult to see them any more. There are many things that I think have not improved with new technology. Linda's right about writing: many ideas don't seem to tumble out of my brain until I start writing the first one down.