My "inbox" is full of email messages citing the benefits of keeping brain cells active throughout middle and old age. I have trouble getting excited about computerized exercises that are designed to combat impending dementia but yield no artwork. I only enjoy a very basic version of Tetris on my phone, which I occasionally use as a meditative tool or as an activity to kill time when I have to wait too long to see a medical professional. For some strange reason, placing little boxes in rows clears my head before I undertake something new. That said, I'm sure this game leads nowhere fast and I am merely rationalizing its benefits.

What puffed up my neurons in recent years was a return to university for a Masters degree and starting a new, stimulating job. Like all muscles in my body, my brain objected to the unaccustomed exercise. Higher education in particular, initially convinced me that the size of my skull was too small and prevented my brain muscle from stretching. Luckily that perception was proved wrong after a few weeks.

My present challenge is to find a new propellant that will keep my grey matter agile. As things become increasingly routine, the "jello" phenomenon often kicks in. The brain jiggles, turns to mush, and dexterous thinking becomes trapped in boxes of convention. Not a good thing for an artist. To achieve a level of continuous personal growth, one must continue to learn new things.

I downloaded a few art apps on my iPad, have Photoshop on an old dying PC laptop, and Gimp on my new iMac. Maybe I'm spreading myself too thin but I don't think so. Fundamentally, one app resembles the other. Some tools are easier to use than others but learning each one invariably helps me make precious connections. I often flip an image through different software to get what I want.

The computer screen tends to smooth out my technique. I can't feel the stylus or my finger dig into the texture of the paper or canvas. A continuing struggle is to recreate the illusion of traditional media on the computer screen. 

"Blue Character" done with Sketches on the iPad
Feels like watercolour and colour pencil but is still decidedly digital.

"Pink" done with Inspire Pro on the iPad.
Feels like pastel and ink

I have a long way to go. The terminology in Photoshop and Gimp is particularly mind boggling. What pray tell is a Gaussian blur (sounds like an alien culture locked in an accelerated time warp), or where will an Alpha Channel take me...will it turn me into a brassy wolf woman? I wish software designers would simplify their technobabble. 

Oh well, one must adapt! Time to sand the inside of my cranium to make room for some new savvy.