Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Unleash Your Inner Artist!

Daniel Pink encourages us to nurture the creative side of our brains in A Whole New Mind, a stimulating book that draws attention to a new skill set possibly needed by workers in this age of globalization. Interestingly, Pink notes that MFA degrees are becoming more relevant than MBAs in the working world and he describes six concepts worthy of aptitude development: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. Pink gives practical ideas for developing facility in these areas and others have suggested that A Whole New Mind is the ideal companion to Thomas Friedman’s A World is Flat.

Teachers looking to develop these sorts of skills in their students might want to consider a truly unique piece of software called Art Rage 2. Art Rage 2 is a painting program developed by a New Zealand based software company, Ambient Design. It is unlike any other painting program as its tools mimic real painting tools. For instance, the oil paint tool employs a paint-like texture and runs out of paint as you drag the "brush" across the digital canvas. Other
implements include chalk, felt pen and crayon tools and each is adjustable in terms of color, width, and pressure. The most unique feature of Art Rage 2, however, is the ability to load tracing images. A digital image can be uploaded to appear underneath your painting canvas. This makes it a cinch to trace with the tool of your choice or to simply turn the image to blendable paint. Tools can be set up to automatically select the correct colors from your digital image or you can choose your own hues. Pictured here this blog posting is an example of a “chalk” drawing I did in Art Rage 2 and the original digital photo I took last summer while visiting Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. Perhaps Claude would be rolling in his grave if he knew of modern day technological advances!

Art Rage 2 is completely engaging for students. My students are currently finishing self-portraits, which we are publishing to an online gallery. Many kids have even downloaded Art Rage 2 at home as the basic version is free and available for both PCs and Macs. I recommend upgrading to the paid version ($19.95), which allows for layers and additional tools including glitter. What kid (or adult!) cannot resist glitter?

The classroom implications are limitless. I can see students using this software to create their own maps, label blank maps, trace Google Earth imagery, record scientific observations, and to create graphics for other projects such as digital slideshows and web sites. My eight year old daughter came home today from school with blackline mandalas to color today, and it just occurred to me that these pictures could be uploaded and colored using Art Rage. Try playing with Art Rage today and add other potential project ideas to the comments section of this blog posting!