Wednesday 13 January 2010

Google Street View and The Virtual Paintout

This post is about:
  • using Google Street View to provide artists with landscape painting opportunities and
  • Bill Guffey's pioneering use of it forThe Virtual Paintout project and blog.
I'm pretty much confined to home at present. I have real problems with balance caused by falls caused by a disabling condition in my feet. Walking on wet snow, slush and ice is a very high risk activity for me. In the past I've had falls on completely dry pavements which have almost always led to six weeks on crutches so any conditions which increase the likelihood of falls are avoided as part of my risk management strategy.

However at least I can get out and about and do walk a lot when the weather is better with a view to strengthening the spaghetti junctions in my ankles. (Believe me = breaking a bone is a complete breeze compared to tearing ligaments and tissue in your feet!)

However many people with disabilities greater than mine don't have the mobility I have. Many people can be confined to their homes for long periods and can have significant problems with travelling to see landscapes and paint. However Google Street View appears to offer some scope for artists to travel in a virtual world and paint in the real world that was never envisaged when this development of Google Maps was created.

Google Street View

Bill Guffey (Bill Guffey), a Kentucky artist, is the person who has been responsible for uncovering the potential of Google Street View.

First he started experimenting with Google Street View to complete a series of paintings, one from each state in the U.S. You can see his Street View State Series on his website. In doing this he contacted Google to find out what was and was not possible.

Using Google Street View as a source is legal - He secured the agreement of Google to the effect that it is permissable for artists to use Google Street View as a reference when working in traditional methods to create art.

All Google requires that if you choose to show the original Street View screen shot on which a painting is based on your blog or website, then the Google logo and copyright MUST be visible in the screenshot. There is no requirement for it to be acknowledged in any way in the actual painting.

Bill has also been complimented by by Google for his inspiring use of their technology.
Bill's use of Street View, to inspire his paintings and to create a virtual community of artists, is a remarkable example that we hadn't imagined but are really excited to see.
Stephen Chau, Google Street View product manager
Benefits for artists with disabilities - As Bill highlights on his blog...........
This opens up an entire world for artists that are disabled and confined to their homes or facilities, or with restricted mobility.
I think this aspect is really terrific for artists with disabilities. It's also the reason why I've chosen to highlight it today given that I'm sitting here and staring out the window at the snow coming down in London!

The Virtual Paintout

Bill subsequently started The Virtual Paintout as a blog project.
The Main Rule

The artist must use a view found through Google Street View as the reference for the painting or drawing. Artwork created from photographs not acquired through Google Street View will not be accepted. User Photos found as thumbnails in the upper right hand corner on some views are not acceptable. Thanks.
To date the Virtual Paintout has visited the following places. If you click on the links you can view the paintings produced by participants as a result.
Below you'll find an example of a painting produced for the London project. This painting by Gary Nemcosky is of Westminster Abbey from Totley Street in London - and below is the nearest I could get to the Google Street View. Gary is an artist and art educator living in the mountains of western North Carolina - a long way from Westminster! This is a link to his blog post about the painting - Virtual Paintout - London, England and this was his conclusion!
This was a lot of fun to do and I would recommend this kind of activity to anyone

Westminster Abbey
12x16" watercolor on Kilamanjaro 140 lb. block.
Gary Nemcosky

Westminster Abbey from the end of Totley Street
view from Google Street View

So - have you tried painting from Google Street View or participated in The Virtual Paintout?
  • How did you find it? What are the pros and cons?
  • Do you have any tips for others having a go?


Billy Guffey said...

Hi Katherine. Thank you so much for this post. I believe the opportunities for people with disabilities to use Street View as a resource have yet to be even scratched.

Katherine Kean said...

I've yet to use the Google Street View to paint from, but I use it, along with Google Earth, as a method to scout out locations in advance before I go in person.

Michelle B. Hendry said...

Kudos to Bill Guffey... what a clever and valuable idea! I know what it's like to not be able to get out for a time. Exciting project!

Leslie Hawes said...

I have been participating in Bill Guffey's Virtual Paintout for a few months now. I am greatly appreciative to Bill for hosting the Virtual Paintout blog.
Google Street View is a fantastic artist's tool.
Street View allows travel to parts of the world that I may never get to see, and provides an on location view without the effect that tourist brochures have of only showing the attractions.
It provides a way of viewing a scene without being intrusive. It captures spontaneous moments that make for energized painting subjects...
Are you getting the feeling that I like the Virtual Paintout and Google Street View? :)

Highly recommend it. It takes a bit of practice to maneuver Street View, but once you try it, it's easy and fun.

Gillian Mowbray said...

Hi Katherine, I'm another Virtual Paintout regular and I'm indebted to Bill for pioneering this idea.
I live in a rural area and don't get to travel much. Like you, I've been pretty well confined to home since this snowy weather began so 'travelling' around sunny Corsica this month has been a dream.
It does take practice but I've found that viewing Street View via Google Earth rather than Google Maps gives a larger image and you can save it, rather than just do a screen grab.
Thanks for furthering the cause!

Gary said...

Thank you Katherine for posting this article that show cases the efforts of Bill Guffey. It has indeed been a lot of fun to participate and to get to know yet another circle of artists. Much of the fun is to see what each other finds - like a treasure hunt.

Robyn Sinclair said...

That's such an impressive effort from Gary.
I'm dying to try this but computer RAM issues make me very nervous of Google Earth at present.

Making A Mark said...

I think you're right to be wary Robyn. Maybe a newish laptop might move across the equator in the coming months?

Robyn Sinclair said...

Only if an unexpected inheritance turns up :)

Byannick said...

Many thanks to Bill...

Some help to use street view?: You ask it, you get it! ;)

Launch google , on the screen use google menu - on the top - click on maps
Enter an address on the field after google maps logo and press the button you get a map of the location

you can use
- the zoom in/out scale to point where you want to go (lick +/- or cursor grab with the mouse button)
- use the four arrows to move left/right and up/down the map

to get more of the map you can use the small icon << top right of the links frame to hide it

Now on the Street view...move the mouse to the yellow guy - click on it (keep the button down) and drag it on the map. All the streets you can see are highlighted. Move the circle under the guy where you want it. If you put it over a highlighted road for few seconds you got the picture of that location.
Drop the guy and you get a large picture.

Now it is the take a tour

You get a 360° view using
- the fours arrows wheel or,
- using a grab/move with the mouse button

You get a zoom with
- the +/- icon under the four arrows wheel
- when you see a sall magnifier and click

You want to see forward or backward the road you can use
- one of the arrow on the white line over the picture
- or double click on a white circle on the road to go there

You like the view - you can enlarge the picture to full screen using the square icon in the top right with four arrow in the corners
then ESC key to come back.

You want a screen capture, use the "prnt" key and paste the result in an image software

You dont like here, and want to go elsewhere... just use the X icon top right

There is more but ... try it and paint it! See you at the Virtual Paint Out

Nic Squirrell said...

Brilliant. I have been sketching from Street View for a while but wasn't sure if it was OK to do so.

It is great to be able to sketch a street in sunny Nice while sitting in cold rainy Kent.

I will be joining you all at the Virtual Paintout very soon....