The painting fool: Stories from building an automated painter

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Colton, S.: The painting fool: Stories from building an automated painter. In: McCormack, J., d’Inverno, M. (eds.) Computers and Creativity, ch.1, pp. 3–38. Springer, Berlin (2012)



The Painting Fool is software that we hope will one day be taken seriously as a creative artist in its own right. This aim is being pursued as an Artificial Intelligence (AI) project, with the hope that the technical difficulties overcome along the way will lead to new and improved generic AI techniques. It is also being pursued as a sociological project, where the effect of software which might be deemed as creative is tested in the art world and the wider public. In this chapter, we summarise our progress so far in The Painting Fool project. To do this, we first compare and contrast The Painting Fool with software of a similar nature arising from AI and graphics projects. We follow this with a discussion of the guiding principles from Computational Creativity research that we adhere to in building the software. We then describe five projects with The Painting Fool where our aim has been to produce increasingly interesting and culturally valuable pieces of art. We end by discussing the issues raised in building an automated painter, and describe further work and future prospects for the project. By studying both the technical difficulties and sociological issues involved in engineering software for creative purposes, we hope to help usher in a new era where computers routinely act as our creative collaborators, as well as independent and creative artists, musicians, writers, designers, engineers and scientists, and contribute in meaningful and interesting ways to human culture.

Extended Abstract


booktitle={Computers and Creativity},
editor={McCormack, Jon and d’Inverno, Mark},
title={The Painting Fool: Stories from Building an Automated Painter},
url={ },
publisher={Springer Berlin Heidelberg},
author={Colton, Simon},

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