The remainder of my life to date has been spent in the mountains around Boulder. This was another good place to grow up, exploring abandoned mines and university steam tunnels. My father had left the military to work in one of Boulder's high tech companies. This was great because he often brought home fun computer equipment for me to play with (at that time basically a dotmatrix printer with a keyboard and a cradle for the phone, slowly connecting to a mainframe where I could play all the original text adventures billable to his clients).
In junior high I began developing my art skills drawing lotsa sports and sci-fi action pictures using all that extra freetime that comes from not paying attention in class. I also got my first computer, a TRS-80 model I with all the trimmings (48k ram, black&green 128x48 graphics, 2 90k intermittent 45k 5.25" floppy drives, roll feed dot matrix printer). What great fun, now I could play text adventures (thanks to Infocom) at home, without consuming vast amounts of paper and expensive mainframe time. It was a also great platform to learn basic programming and prepare for the soon to be everywhere MSDOS (TRSdos and TRSbasic were none other than infant MS-dos and MS-basic).
In high school, I dumped the trash80 for an ibm compatible (sorta) Tandy 1000 with all the trimmings (640k ram, 2 360k floppies, 3 voice sound, 16 color 640x480 graphics). Wow, all this power was unbelievable. I really got into programming, learning Pascal and Prolog (thanks to great products from Borland and crappy products on the Apple II's at school).
During this time, I practiced my art skills by drawing cars, planes, helicopters, fantasy stuff, charicatures of teachers and classmates, all with that bonus freetime I learned about in Junior High. I became quite good at reproducing photographs (although I often inadvertently distorted proportions).
After graduatating from Boulder High, I headed across the creek and up the hill to the University of Colorado. In college, I continued my tradition of drawing and doodling in class, and also during my part-time job doing telephone surveys (ugh). I drew my interests at the time... comics, buildings, more cars, and 'surreal'.
I started off at the University as a Computer Science major in the Engineering School. After finding computer classes mind numbingly easy&boring and engineering classes mind numbingly difficult&boring, I bailed out into the mostly interesting&challenging world of Environmental Design (i.e. Architecture). I no longer had time for computers and sort of forget about them, but my drawing, design & graphics skills got a rigorous workout.
My interest in computers was rekindled briefly when I got a part-time job selling Amiga computers, and they loaned me an Amiga 500 with 1meg ram, 2 720k floppies, killer graphics/sound. Wow, the amazing games, painting and 3d programs, sure made the pc look bland. But that job didn't last long.
Ironically, it was as an ENVD student that I got into doing the sort of fun things with the computer that I only dreamed about in Computer Science. I was 'discovered' by Professor Ray McCall and given small amounts of money and independent study 'A's to program 3d computer graphics on his Phidias HyperCad system in dos and later windows. And with what unbelievable computing power... IBM PS/2 386's (and later 486) with 8 megs of ram, 80 meg harddrives, interlaced 1024x768x256 graphics, and laser printers.
Thanks to a few off-the-wall nontenured (1 art/education grad student, 2 outside architects) instructors with much skill & creativity, I dramatically improved my drawing & compositional skills as a student at the University.
After graduating from CU, I continued to work for the college and Dr. McCall as one of the school's computer slaves and the almost primary programmer on the ever-evolving Phidias HyperCAD system. I also learned a bit about the real world of computer programming at Pd' Programming. With help from Dr. McCall and
good contacts I was able to piece together my own computer system with the motherboard from an old Everex MegaCube, 486/66, gig drive, 16bit sound, 1152x960 16million color graphics,
24 megs ram, 32bit SCSI w/ 4meg cache. What amazing power, capable of working with high quality images (though requiring exponentially increasing patience the larger the image).
As my time became consumed with the dreadful task of having to earn money to survive (and the not so dreadful, but sill quite daunting task of finding and securing a mate), I had less time to devote to art. However I made the best of what time I did have, by moving to larger size pictures, and playing with 'faster' media (such as marker). I began to explore the computer as a tool for art, it was great fun, but still quite clumsy despite despite the powerful hardware and software.
Finally, I found a cool girl and we were soon wed, and then quickly priced out of Boulder when it suddenly became the popular place for Californian refugees. After a disgruntling year rotting in Boulder's suburbs (where tacky tract mansions are relentlessly slapped together to make quick profit on the tasteless cash-rich from the sale of their last tacky home in a grossly over-priced area) we were able to escape to an affordable hip little house in the mountains above Boulder.
Meantime the Phidias project finally got some decent funding, which has enabled me to continue to avoid the 'real world', and do most of my work at home. Of course, this required having the next new generation of pc hardware put into my hands. Wow, suddenly the computer, with the help of a pen tablet, has finally become a full blown tool for creating, archiving, publishing and selling high-quality images (and playing mindboggling games). As powerful as hardware has become, my needs seem to have grown faster, 90meg images can be a bit unwieldy, and raytraced 3d is still a drag. Oh well, there's always tomorrow's hardware.
So, what does the future hold in store? Stay tuned to this channel...
If you have come in the back door of Erik Johnson's Virtual Gallery via a net search, I suggest you try the front door.