16th April 1999 at 01:00
Computers suffer from a bit of an image problem in the art world. They are often seen as techie devices with little to do with the creative process. Fortunately, this attitude is changing and more and more art teachers are discovering that ICT and art can mix. Part of the problem has been the arrival of clip art on CD-Rom. These collections of ready-made images have their place in the school curriculum, but art teachers are naturally concerned that pupils will use them as a short cut to the creative process.

Clip-art titles are a classic example of how computers can appear to make life just a little too easy for the student, but as Bill Goodall, art adviser for Dudley LEA, points out: "There is a feeling that unless something has been drawn with a 2B pencil, it hasn't involved a lot of hard work. But while pencil drawing is an important skill, there are other ways of motivating pupils to produce the results they want, and that includes using a computer."

A digital tablet with its own pen is a very useful tool, says Bill Goodall, as it can become a pencil, brush, or a spray with millions of colours by using simple paint programs. In design work, graphics programs can be used to manipulate 2D and 3D images. "My son is a potter and he develops all his work on a computer using 3D images. He doesn't touch the clay until he's created the product on screen," says Goodall.

Assessing artwork created on a computer can be challenging, Goodall admits:

"How much of the finished work is the software's and how much is the pupil's skills?" Computers have made some of the creative process easier, but ICT cannot replace the creativity and graft required to produce good quality art work 10 USEFUL RESOURCES

1 Virtual Teachers Centre art pages 2 Kid Pix Studio School Edition CD-Rom is a must for primary children (pound;29.95 from TAG, tel: 0800 591262) 3 Disney Magic Artist CD-Rom, another primary must, around pound;30 from good software dealersamp; 4 ArtRageous! CD-Rom (pound;17 from Ablac, tel: 01626 332233 5 Scanners, for copying graphic images into computers are now cheap - well below pound;100 6 Digital cameras can provide images which can be manipulated on-screen (usually come with software) 7 Graphic tablets are now sophisticated for drawing on-screen. Look out for Wacom (less than pound;100) 8 Commercial graphics programs like Freehand and Photoshop (Adobe) are popular in art departments 9 Corel Draw 8 art and design package (pound;89 from MultiMax, tel: 01652 651651) 10 Multimedia Dictionary of Modern Art CD-Rom (pound;69.95 from Thames and Hudson, tel: 0171 845 5050)

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