Pixels and a Painted Lady

My Special Promtions this week include some of my earliest works. Thanks to Vannessa Bates who chose this weeks promotional art work. All three are now available from either http://10-mark-taylor.artistwebsites.com/ or any of the special promotional pages here:


Bearing Down is available here:http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=167491

Whispering Shores is available here: http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=167492

Morning Loch is available here: http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=167493

Why is it when I get a genius idea, someone seems to always beat me to it? Walter Newton is like me, a child of the early computer generation. The generation that was bought up on the technology of the Sinclair ZX81, the Commodore VIC 20, The Sinclair Spectrum and the Commodore 64. Oh, and a whole host of other machines that I managed to convince my parents to buy me for educational purposes. How on earth they believed me when I said that the Mattel Aquarius was a serious educational machine, I have no idea to this day. Although rather cunningly they did not buy me the required tape deck, so I had to program my own little games, and then type them in all over again next time I wanted to play them.


I remember those days with fondness. My digital art career started on the Sinclair ZX81, creating at the time, some very forward and futuristic art. I created a portrait of Einstein using monochrome, and created with letters, 8x8 blocks and full stops. The kind of design that would take a Photoshop master weeks to replicate these days.


I have been creating some pixel work over the last few months. Reminiscing over the old days, and getting some of the excitement I had as a young boy back. The excitement of creating something that looked like something using the most basic and primitive elements, and the finished pixel art made me nostalgic and emotional. I even caught the smell of opening the box of a new computer for a moment.


I knew this was art all those years ago, and it seems that pixels are making a comeback. I have even started to take my Retro board on Pinterest very seriously of late, and I have been told it is one of the best retro boards on the platform. (You can take a look by searching for @beechhousemedia on Pinterest). I’m into it, and always have been. Do you know what? Some of the early home computers were way more stable than any current Windows PC. Ok, maybe the RAM expansion packs were a bit wobbly, but generally, you switched them on and they worked.


Well, it seems that Walter Newton has beaten me to the post and has had his work exhibited in the Coningsby Gallery in London. I am a bit late with this as the exhibition (20 GOTO 10) ran in January and has now closed. But it does present a question, does pixel art have a place in today’s digital art world?


I am hoping so, some of the work I started months ago merely as something to relax me and take me back to my childhood years, I am now going to complete. To me it gives me a sense of nostalgia and joy, so much so that I am considering the purchase of a Commodore 64 complete with a tape deck and a copy of Jet Set Willy. Of course, I won’t use it to play games from the past, it will be purely to use as a platform for creating some pixel art.


When I looked on the internet today, I was amazed that pixel art does indeed have a huge following. There are many sites dedicated to the art, and many tutorials on the tools to use to recreate the images that we once stood in awe of as they slowly emerged during the loading a triple A title. I still remember the amazement of the 3D effect on the loading screen of Dam Busters on the Sinclair Spectrum. Call me a cave man, but to me it was better than anything Warhol had produced.


That might not be the case now, my years spent studying art and using digital media has refined my taste somewhat, but at the time and being no older than about 11 or 12, seeing some of the graphics achieved on home computers was actually my introduction to the arts and what gave me the interest that I have today. When I look at the next, next gen consoles, very few titles give me the same jaw dropping experience, purely because to achieve anything realistic on the ZX81 and the others took real skill. Today, it's pretty easy by comparison.


In 1982, some three years after it was released, I managed to convince my parents that I needed an Atari 400 home computer. The keyboard although similar to the Sinclair ZX81, was much better. Albeit, not a touch typists dream. I created a game, which sold about 10 copies, and I made around £250 from it as an upfront payment.


I’m sure the publisher expected to sell more than 10 copies, but I have to admit, it was truly awful. It was made in my bedroom over five nights after school. That was the start and end of my game creating career. The £250 soon went when I purchased a Sinclair Spectrum, some half decent games and a new tape deck.


Last year I started creating a game for the iPad, it is as yet completely unfinished, but I have used pixelated graphics, and the first level is way better than my efforts at creating my Atari game all those years ago. I mean that game didn't have any sound other than a slightly warped boom when you died. This iPad game does at least have some music courtesy of my time wasted playing with Garage Band.

And it has also been a busy week both in my day job, in fact nightmare may describe the week I had better, and I have been very busy creating new art work, and you can see it all on the new Gallery 9 page: http://www.beechhousemedia.co.uk/p/gallery-9.html or just click on the link in the page menu. My favourite piece is Painted Lady, taking me around 6-hours, and using the newly upgraded ProCreate app on the iPad.


So my question today is, is pixel art really the new post war era of art, or is it a fad enjoyed by either geeks or those who like me hanker after the good old days of the truly personal computer?




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