By Noelle H. Lowery
April is a very important month for Rob Eder’s art history class at Marco Island Academy. His students will be showing roughly 30 original art works at the La Petite Galerie at the Marco Island Center for the Arts.
These are not just any old paintings or sketches, and patrons definitely will not see any pottery. What they will see are computer-enhanced watercolors of guitars — bright, colorful, authentic guitars.
Part of a class project, Eder divided his class into working groups who then created their own guitar design companies complete with corporate name and logo. Each group had to design 16 guitars based on traditional templates for acoustical guitars and popular electric guitars created by Fender, Gibson and Les Paul.
Students in each group draw their guitar design, and create the watercolor, which is then scanned into a computer. Then, if students choose, they use a digital photo manipulation program to alter their creation as they see fit with various filters and effects. Eder’s class used Picmonkey and PhotoShop. Using a giclee printer, a watercolor image is created on museum-quality, acid-free archival watercolor paper, and voila, a unique work of is born.
Eder assigned a similar project to his art history class last year. Only, the subject of the project was skateboards. “The students’ personalities really came out into the design of the skateboards,” he says.
He is hoping for the same result this year, especially since a few of his students are avid guitar players. Take sophomore Sean Flynn, who has been playing guitar for the last two years. The classic rock loving kid was really excited when Eder announced the project.
“I took to the guitar very quickly…I’m good with music,” Flynn explains. “With the art stuff, I am clueless. The fact that Mr. Eder was able to combine both elements made it easier for me, and I was more interested in it.”
His company is Trinity, and his business partners are freshman Sydney Feriozzi and sophomore Emily McRae. Flynn’s favorite original design was based on elements he would include on his Les Paul guitar if he could create it himself. Vibrant colors and a maze-like body bring the picture to life for Flynn.
Juniors Livia Lenhoff and Katie Nelson have a different take on the project. Their company’s name — Soul Serial Eater — was inspired by Lenhoff’s collection of old Emerson, Lake and Palmer albums. (No, your eyes are not deceiving you. I said albums.) Their company logo is straight out of the 1960s as well complete with psychedelic flavor.
“I like that (the project) relates to music because I am a hug music fan,” Lenhoff says.
The girls are purist, though, and they will not alter their designs in any way with a computer program. “Photoshop devalues art,” says Lenhoff. “I am an artist. I enjoy painting and drawing and selling art…Anyone can manipulate a drawing with a computer, but being an artist, that is born in you.”
Eder welcomes the philosophical debate in his classroom: “Is it art if you use photoshop? Should we embrace digital images? That is the world we live in now.”