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My first step was taken while sitting in the cool shade on a picnic bench, just steps away from the scorching July sand. The smell of seaweed-saturated lake water permeated the air. In my hands was a large drawing pad. The color not white, but that tint of paper we used in grammar school for learning cursive writing. On that piece of paper, was a reflection of the world around me. A stick figure like person with long yellow hair...that was my sister. Her pink colored figure stood in a field of blue hatched diagonally as if the wind were blowing the grass. Her yellow hollow head stood out against a sky so green. I believe the whole green crayon was in the paper. As I was drawing, an older woman began yelling, her breath thick with smoke, her voice cutting as she exclaimed, "The sky isn't green Ralphie! The sky is blue, start over again!" My mother came right over when she noticed the look of disappointment on my face. "The sky can be any color he wants it to be!" she emphasized as her eyes cut into my grandmother.

Since that day I spent a good portion of my youth and adolescence exploring ways that I could visualize things that were riding around in my mind. Early incarnations where classically based, from finger painting and collage, to oil painting and sculpture.

My second step was taken when I attended The University of Illinois at Chicago. I found a new outlet, that I considered more powerful than any of the others I had worked in. I took my first animation class as a sophomore and found that I was both fascinated by my ability to concentrate on the atomic level of motion picture, the frame, and the inherent beauty in the final product, fluidity of motion.

I became dismayed by the simple fact that while I can draw to some degree, I could not draw in the classic style that provides an animator with numerous opportunities. I could however animate, and I had a consistent style and the ability to breakdown motion and timing to 1/24th of a second. I knew that I had the ability and the stamina to animate, but I lacked the appropriate medium to create motion and visualize those designs in my imagination.

The medium I have found is the computer. I am excited by the computer's ability, through it's user, to transform one's imagination. Whether it is mathematical data, CAD design, a rendered unreality, or an animated character, bringing an array of numbers to life is an amazing and beautiful process.

My next step is to continue creating with these new tools, both as a programmer, (which I find to be rather easy considering my B.F.A. background), and as an artist. There are so many things that can be affordably produced with the aid of computers. I strongly believe that an artist at the helm of a workstation aids in breathing life into otherwise stale and inanimate graphics.

Copyright © 1998 ralph de stefano. all rights reserved. reproduction without permission is prohibited. last modified january 24, 1998