Painting By The Numbers

My feeble attempts in grade school

I always wanted to draw, and paint. I tried, too, a bunch of times, and never got the handle on it. I stunk, and even with repeated efforts, never seemed to improve… at all. So I finally gave up on it.

That is, until some computer software gave me the chance to see how my attempts might have turned out had I actually had any drawing/painting ability. I roomed with an excellent water color artist in Boston for a time, and he grew my appreciation for the art immeasurably. One of the things I learned from him was that the subject, and composition of said subject was very important… as important as was the technique used in rendering a good work of art.

72 years of cameras – not showing is a Konica with 6 extra lenses

See, I found photography during my grade school years and have taken thousands of pictures from then until now. It has always seemed the closest I could come to any attempt to create art. So when I discovered, several years back, that there were available software designed to turn normal pictures into different kinds of water colors, I hopped on that wagon.

I have to tell you, it’s been a blast. The program I use, Pro Water Color Studio, has 26 different renderings of my picture, with multiple adjustments of the layers. Plenty of options to satisfy my primitive artistic attempts. There are others, of course, more expensive and more detailed, but this one suits my purposes perfectly.

Betty, kayaking on Branham Lake, SW Montana

A day of fishing on a river in SW Montana

An abandoned sailboat on Penn Cove, 3 miles from our house

My Mustang, parked in the driveway

Along those same lines, I also discovered Dalle-E 2, chatGPT’s AI creator of text-to-image, along with Deep Dream AI, Starry AI, Freepik and Qualia… all wonderfully creative apps that, well, how else can I say it, surprise and delight! I’m having a great time with them and I want to share some of it with you.

My cabin on Lake Burton, GA. Done from a photo. The cabin is the same, everything else, the way the lake looks, and the greenery around the cabin, are AI generated.

My cabin in Montana. The cabin and garage are the same, but the surrounding area, the water at the bottom, and the mountains behind the cabin, are AI generated.

The captain’s quarters, in the aft of a tall ship, has always been one of my favorite places. This was generated from telling AI to render the aft portion of a tall ship in a water color painting style.

This is the rendering of the inside of a captain’s quarters. All this from a verbal prompt. It’s unsatisfactory, but you get the idea.

It was brought to my attention on the internet last week that the words “AI art” were an oxymoron and shouldn’t be used together. Thinking about it, I have to agree. Any pictures rendered with any AI program should probably be referred to as AI pics, digital renderings, but not AI Art. I’ll stick with that for now, though it might be something of a slippery slope for some. Art, after all, is still in the eye of the beholder.

In any event, I’m sure having fun with it. You might try it sometime. It becomes strangely satisfying,  gently pulling us into its possibilities, while challenging our imaginations. I highly recommend it.

Steve Hulse


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