In 1985 or so I showed a film in my class about how Philip Pearlstein, the
figurative painter, was using computers to 'design' his paintings. It was
interesting on how he saw computers as another tool to help him make
aesthetic decisions on everything from composition to backgrounds. At the
time my students and I were just amazed because few of us owned a computer,
and if we did, we were struggling with our 'etch o sketch' drawings. Then in
1988, I received an award of an Amiga computer along with drawing software.
I would lend it out to students to take home over the summer to 'dabble'. It
opened up many ideas, but also let me know as an educator that unless you
have a separate room (dust free) of a bank of computers, with appropriate
high level software, the notion of teaching or integrating 'computers' into
a studio art class was impractical.
Fast forward 20 years....I have visited many art schools with computer
graphic programs, and computers in general being used in their art programs.
They have all told me that whatever software I could buy/use on the public
school level would be outdated by the time my students would get to the
college level. They have also said that students are computer savvy now to
the point that they are not computer phobic (as may have been the case 20
years ago). They told me they are looking for students with strong design
ideas, strong original ideas, and a grasp of the aesthetic decision making
process (i.e. principles and elements)and that their school would take them
We have a local vo-tech school that some of my students have gone to in the
past. The computer use there has been limited to what I call what the old
"paste up" artist used to do, layout and design, with imagery and
typography. In fact our school will be doing a Graphic Design course
similarly along those lines. I think this use of computers in art is
doable...but the use of computers as "paint" the way Philip Pearlstein and
others have used them takes hours of experimenting, and we don't have that
luxury with our students at this level.