From Paint to Pixels

Paula LaBrot

Most people don’t realize that it was artists that spearheaded bringing computers into many schools. The first lab at Topanga Elementary was set up by an artist, as was the first lab at Chaminade High School, where I taught.

Building my theater and film programs, I brought in the first digital cameras, programmable intelligent lights, digital sound boards and computer editing. We had the Red Camera before USC did! In the early days of the mid-nineties, we often had to build our own computers, sound, and light setups, animation programs, and audio-visual systems. My student artists embraced digital technology early on—and I loved it!

Wanting to share this love of tech and art with my grandaughter Nini, I was intrigued by a notice advertising the Wisdome Immersive Art Park in downtown Los Angeles. What better way to introduce a child to the “art exhibit experience” than an interactive show? So, we went.

The show is called “Samskara.” It is housed in five domes. You enter through a hall of mirrors into the first dome. Meditation music, super-high-quality sound surrounds you. There is a circle of holographic computer-generated “paintings” to see. In the center are flowers and sculptures, a bit reminiscent of the early Disneyland rides in Fantasyland. Some black and white optical illusions between the art pieces give an Escher-like quality to the room.

The second, larger dome has a lot more of the art work. I loved the explanation cards next to the works; they were active text that you would read and the text would fade to a following page. The artist, Android Jones, was not one of those artists that give you nothing except “Black Cube” on the note. Jones really speaks to you, educates you, includes you in his thinking.

Sarah Musnicky writes, “Walking throughout the gallery itself, your mind is taking in all of the intricate details Jones has interwoven within his pieces. One could argue that a single piece could entrance you due to the level of detail. If that wasn’t enough, there is a projection featured in the gallery where you can see some of Jones’s pieces come to life.”

The art is spiritual, storytelling, super colorful, so beautiful. The humility and love of the artist radiates from his work and there is a piece you can “get into.”

Past a third dome where one can don a headset and experience virtual reality, Nini and I laid back under the huge 360-degree fourth dome and experienced an immersive journey through Android Jones’ beautiful world. Projection mapping allows his images to be displayed on any surface, flat or curved. The surround sound had a crystal clarity.

Writing for, Philipp Vogt said, “His art seems to come from a realm of the subconscious—mystic messages about love and connection, hope and humanity, the universe and its infinite possibilities available to us.”

Digital art differs from traditional painting, drawing, and sculpting. There are pixels. Pixels, or picture elements, are basic units of programmable color.

Artist Monika Zagrobelna explains, “In the digital environment we don’t have wood, charcoal, or paint. Everything is the same—just a combination of zeros and ones translated to a visual form on the screen. These zeros and ones can simulate any medium you can imagine. Just like a proper piece of software can turn your computer into a violin, a piano, or drums, another one can turn it into a canvas and a palette full of various paints.

Today, artists have so many options available, and I believe we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the old, classic definition of art. I use traditional ink liners in my traditional sketchbook to sketch and study because I like to draw while semi-reclining on my couch. I paint digitally in SketchBook Pro because I love the possibility to use all the colors and brushes without the pressure to get everything right the first time. And I love that I live in the times when my art can be shared with thousands of people in a digital form. Even if my paintings are not “real” I don’t care—they are pretty real to me!”

The tools of the modern digital artist include good software programs, a stylus and graphics tablets. The software is remarkable. It allows the artist to layer, to blend, to create all kinds of different brush strokes. Famous artists’ works have been scanned, and an artist can choose to use the brushstrokes of Renoir or Rembrandt.

“Samskara” means the impressions past experience leaves on our souls. This exhibit left a beautiful imprint on my soul. It’s so beyond the Crayolas I give Nini to color with. With those Crayolas, however, Nini, like Jones, creates from the heart. Even in the far future, that is what will make an artist great.

Check it out at

Vamos a Ver!






Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace.

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