Tag Archives: mother

Forty Years of Video Games

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Summertime blues and boredom have gotten me surfing the web for ideas on how in the world we can get out of this house and explore something new and exciting.  We live in this vibrant area – in one direction you have Washington, DC, then drive north and you run into Baltimore, Maryland!  I grew up in Virginia, and there are still places I haven’t seen in this metropolitan mecca.  So with a Saturday of rest under our belts, we decided to head to the museums in the city after church.  It was a late start, but it was a tad spontaneous — I mean, we did go home and change out of our ‘Sunday’s best’ after all — yet it still qualified as an adventure!

A classmate had mentioned that the Smithsonian Museum of American Art was showing “The Art of Video Games” exhibit through September.  It wasn’t a mind-numbing electronic device — no, no… it was a trip to the museum disguised as a video game!  This was perfect!  So the, “What? We have to go walk around in the heat to boring museums?” morphed into, “Cool!!!  Are we there yet?”  It was magical…  I was even a little excited about it myself.  One area of graphic art that I have been intrigued by is 3D gaming animation.  I was able to get some introduction to creating a 3-dimensional space in my last summer course, but I would like to delve deeper into that virtual arena… especially with its dynamic rate of innovation!  I feel like Marty McFly hanging onto the bumper of technology with sparks shooting out from under my skateboard!  Well, if you think that last reference dates me, take a look at where the genesis of video gaming began with me… That’s right, “Era 1″… bring on your “Pac Man”, the “Space Invaders” and “Break Out!”  Those were the days, alright… when the characters were subtle and the audio was muddled.  Fast forward thirty years, and I am watching my children flailing their arms about while bringing their Miis to life in a virtual game space.  I wonder what the next 30 years will bring… Will we be installing a Holodeck in our basement for our grandchildren?  Fortunately, we’re not there yet, so I have time to savvy myself up to speed with the young-un’s and to jump into this genre of illustration.

While the exhibit was a fun stride down memory lane, it was much smaller than we anticipated.  Three virtual stations were available to people who wanted to showcase their gaming skills in public, with a loOong line of hopeful players watching on.  There were probably three small rooms with video interviews sporadically mounted throughout the exhibit — none of which I was able to hear well with the crowds.  So the obvious lesson learned here was, don’t visit on the weekend unless absolutely necessary… and if it IS the only time you can go, try to get there when it first opens.  For the homeschoolers & parents of younger children:  WARNING… I will advise you to move along quickly past the huge hypnotic wall of multiple screens.  As I was standing there trying to snap a visually interesting photograph, I was dismayed by the images of a topless women at the hub of this digital display that appeared rather suddenly (and then lingered) in the looped video sequence.  I felt that was inappropriately projected considering the target audience for video games, but I will stay off my soapbox for the moment.  At the end of the day, I would not recommend heading into DC specifically to see this exhibit, which we found to be somewhat underwhelming.  We felt that the potential to show 40 years of technological gaming evolution was underachieved.  On the upside, the kids enjoyed seeing all the different displays of games and listening to narratives through the phone tours.  Additionally, there are other engaging exhibits in the museum, and blocks of attractions to enjoy all over the city.

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I’m Just Warming Up…

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Michelle Fitzurka's Art

One of my better daily practice sketches.

Continuing my organizational mission in my studio, I found some charcoal sketches from a portraiture class I had enrolled in 10 years ago at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts — WOW, has it really been that long?!  At the time, I wasn’t really sure if I would be any good at drawing faces, but I wanted to give it a try.  As it turned out, I really loved this subject, and I realized that pencil sketching each day would open me up to clearer observations of the details and sharpen my skills little by little.  So now that I am gearing up for my Drawing class that begins in the Fall, I thought I would post a few of my favorites.   I decided to add a few of the smaller sketches that were a part of my daily practice routine, as well.  This is a conscious reminder that I need to get that drawing pad out again for my down times… Did I really write that?  I am a mother of 4, there are no downtimes!!!  So in Momspeak, that is to say that I need to carve some time into my quiet hours ~ which equates to the time that the children are in bed sleeping, and when I probably should be doing the same.  But who has time for sleep when there are creative conquests on the horizon!  These are the moments when you recognize that you are doing what you were created to do.  You are recharged with a second wind of passion that drives you into the wee hours of invigorating process until you reluctantly surrender to your pillow.  With a breath of fresh morning light your workscape beckons to you… ahh yes, THIS is my Fitztopia…

A quick sketch of Gandalf emerging out of my fascination
with “Lord of the Rings” when the first movie was released.

Exploring various exposures of light in the studio with charcoal.

In the Beginning…

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Cotton application of ink onto newsprint
was the method of shading used in this studio art project.

Now that I have finally made it to the end of this summer semester, it is time to return to my domestic responsibilities in full force.  Our garage is still stacked high with boxes from our recent move and my [somewhat] freshly painted studio is buried in the basement by bins filled with supplies begging to be organized.  Do you ever find yourself vowing to purge stored forgotten treasures only to become entranced by volumes of unboxed memories?  Well, as I meandered through this maze of sketch pads and easels, I came across my cardboard, poorly duct taped college art portfolio from a time that predates vector graphics – at least before they were commercialized to the general public.  Yes, I realize that maps my post secondary education on a timeline, but it also serves as a disclaimer for coloring outside of the lines in these projects… in the spirit of ‘We just didn’t know any better’… That was the season when “Def Leppard” played in the Ratskellar, Dana Carvey & Mike Myers were dabombdiggity on “Saturday Night Live” and cell phones looked more like walkie talkies… Good times, good times… So just for the fun of it, I thought I would post a few of my earlier projects that I unearthed in the process of declutterization… okay, who am I kidding… this is just a great excuse to get out of that mess downstairs!  Enjoy!…

An early ink graphic designed for my studio art class at the university.

This design was created with cut Canson paper.

The visual transformation of a sketch into an abstracted non-objective rendering.

The Whispering Sands of Kseniya Simonova

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Click on the photograph to visit Kseniya Simonova’s official website.
Photo taken in Yevpatoria, Sept. 2009.  Stringer/Russia.

I am always on the lookout for artists who are reaching out in some compelling way.  It is a hope of mine to somehow channel my own talents in this way, so I am inspired by the efforts of those who are already making a difference.  In the case of Kseniya Simonova, I was first drawn to her mesmerizing sand art creations when I was introduced to her work by a classmate’s blog.

At the age of 24 and a young mother, she became the winner of the first “Ukraine’s Got Talent” televised competition in July 2009.  (Click on the link to watch the YouTube video of this remarkable 8 minute live performance.)  Since then, she has become an online and international sensation.  Upon further research, I was delighted to find that her passion extends to so many outreaches!  The depth of her compassion emanates through her works instilled with messages of hope.  There is a purity in her expression that is so refreshing and so filled with Truth.  As an artistic enthusiast, there is something innately captivating about watching an artist completely immersed in their creative process.  This is particularly true in the case of Simonova’s seamless choreography of gestures throughout her quintessentially poignant compositions which she delivers with both grace and conviction, leaving the audience enraptured.