I have had my Amazon Echo Dot for over a year now (read my initial review of the Amazon Echo Dot here (Perkins post)), and I am always surprised at how much that the Alexa voice assistant can do. Recently, I received a post request to talk about how Amazon Alexa can help artists create artwork, and I was excited to test out these skills with some of my artistic friends and see what was available. Here are eight free skills that show how Amazon Alexa can help you with art- both learning about and creating it.
Stuck on what color to use? Ask Alexa for a random color and she will give you one. I like that it isn’t something generic like blue or purple, rather something more specific like cobalt blue or lavender purple. Neutral colors like gray and brown are also included, and I have never had Alexa repeat the same color twice. This skill is enabled by default.
Art Lessons delivers quick but informative lessons on art history, techniques, elements, and principles. The lessons are easy to follow, and the skill can be used by artists of all skill levels. I found the lessons on elements most useful, as I have taken a lot of classes related to design in college. Enable this skill by saying “Alexa, enable art lessons.”
Almost all of my artist friends try to draw something every day, but it can be difficult to decide what to draw. Either someone has an overabundance of ideas, or no ideas at all, which can lead to artist’s block. This skill allows users to ask for a random drawing prompt, with different categories to choose from, such as creatures, scenarios, environments, situations and characters. Users can get prompts for a specific category by asking drawing prompts for an environment. Enable this skill by saying “Alexa, enable drawing prompts.”
1 in 8 men and 1 in 200 women have some form of colorblindness. Color Selection Assistant will give users color combinations they can use so that they can avoid common color blind combinations. While this skill may be more for designers than it is for casual artists, it could really benefit a young artist who is drawing for a colorblind family member. Enable this skill by saying “Alexa, enable color selection assistant.” Read more about colored backgrounds and text readability here.
Want to learn more about art history? Ask Artsy about an artist and listen to a bio about them in the context of art history. Artsy can also recommend local art events, but from what I can tell it only works for major cities. Users can also play the Artsy podcast and learn more about art in the past, present, and future. This skill would be great for preparing to go to an art museum or event- read more about my adventure at the Smithsonian American Art Museum here. Enable this skill by saying “Alexa, enable Artsy.”
For artists looking for inspiration, Alexa can give the name of a random painting, and display the painting name in the Alexa app. Right now, the Alexa app does not allow for the painting to be enlarged within the app, and it is just a small thumbnail. However, users can search the name of the painting in a search engine and get a high-resolution image that way- read more about high-resolution images and why they are important here. This skill is enabled by default.
Here’s a fun drawing game for a group of people. Users are told to draw random pieces of a character, one piece at a time, prompting Young Picasso for the next piece when ready. After drawing a complete character, users can compare their drawings with everyone else in the room. Examples of random pieces include a hairy ear, large nose, and big eyes. I feel like this skill would be really fun for an art class- read more about including artists with low vision here. This skill has to be enabled from a web browser or Alexa app, as permission is required to enable skills directed at kids. Check out the Young Picasso skill link here.
This skill requires a bit more setting up, with access to a Google account with Cloud Print service and a printer. I recommend completing the set up in browser. After that, users can ask coloring pages to print animals, characters, and other objects, and it will print out a coloring page within a minute or two. Some users reported the app not understanding them correctly, but I never had this issue and was able to easily print off coloring pages of various complexities. Just don’t leave children unattended with this skill, unless you want to run out of paper quickly. Enable the skill in a web browser or from the Alexa app. Check out the Coloring Pages skill link here.
I hope you enjoy these eight free skills that show how Amazon Alexa can help you with art, because Earth without art is just “eh.”