Believe me or not, when I blogged about Sketchbook Pro, I had no idea of David Hockney‘s upcoming exhibition of work which include paintings done on his iPad. Call it zeitgeist, but as soon as I published my Old Brass Kettle blog, Hockney turned up all over TV with his iPad, talking about his upcoming Royal Academy exhibition and how he made some of the paintings using an iPad. In fact, he’s recently exhibited Fresh Flowers which are paintings done entirely on his iPad. (No doubt Fresh refers not only to the state of the flowers, but also to the new way of making the works).
I was desperate to know what app Hockney uses. I heard him mention brushes and at first came up with the app My Brushes.
I did the drawing above using My Brushes. I like the app, though have three issues with it. First, there was no quick way of finding out how to get my drawing off the iPad. Eventually, I found the drawing in my iPad’s photo folder and was then able to transfer it to my laptop.
The second issue is that I’m left-handed and I have that in common with many artists. The paintbox for this app is situated on the bottom left of the iPad screen. That’s right under my left wrist. And I found that my wrist, dragging across the palette, changed the colour on my brush to something else while I was working. Not only that, there was no way it seemed of going back to the original colour, except by setting it up again and I ended up with only an approximation of what I had been using. After this happened a few times, I began to get irritated.
The third issue is that despite sending to emails to My Brushes Customer Support, I’ve yet to get a reply.
I can talk about another app here, because I transferred my drawing made on My Brushes using an app called Dropbox. What you do is install Dropbox on your iPad and then again on your computer(s)/iPhone. When you drop something into Dropbox it is immediately beamed-up to all your other devices.
I then discovered that Hockney uses an app called Brushes and did some figure drawings using that. I also started a landscape painting but that’s not finished yet. I have some things to discover yet with this app – well all of them actually. I might find I use several apps to make one drawing or painting. I read Hockney uses more than one app.
This is not Hockney’s first adventure with new tech. I have a pull-out from a magazine stored away somewhere, an article with images from more than 10 years ago, even before the advent of the laptop computer. Hockney made the images – which were as I recall, of his house in California – using software that I only remember as Lightbox.
Once I had transferred my drawings to my laptop, I could do what I liked with them. The one at the top of this blog is a fusion of two drawings which I did using Photoshop Elements 9. The figure who modelled for me is actually a wooden artist’s mannikin I recently bought. I placed it on a mantlepiece in front of a big mirror. I liked the way the image was mirrored back differently to the original and the new forms created by the negative spaces between the real mannikin and the one in the mirror. Overlaying the two drawings added another dimension, so the drawing has ended up with 4 different realities. (You will have to overlook the poor foreshortening of the real mannikin’s upraised leg)!
One bonus of creating in this way is that you can save a copy of a drawing at any stage on your iPad before adding to it. This means that if you aren’t satisfied with your end result, you can have earlier versions to go back to. You could also take an earlier version in a different direction and end up with a suite of related works all arising from one beginning.
An entertaining attribute of Brushes is the button which re-draws your work from scratch, i.e. it takes you through all the marks you made from the first mark, through to the last, showing you the history of how you made the work. I don’t know how useful this will be yet. The re-drawing happens fast and I haven’t so far found a way of freezing the process or at least slowing it down so I can learn from myself.
I read that Hockney uses these apps with his finger. (He doesn’t always in fact as I’ve seen a photo of him painting on his iPad and he’s got a pen in his hand). I use my Bamboo Pen. Somehow, using my finger to paint makes me feel clumsy and arthritic! Also, the pen gives my hand a bit of distance from the iPad surface and in that way I can avoid brushing across what I’m doing with my wrist. I’m going to have to get used to a lighter touch with the pen though. I tend to scrub when I draw (with the idea, I suppose, that extra pressure = a better drawing!) and I’ll wear the end off my pen in no time. This reminds me of the run up to my degree show, when I was painting (desperately) sometimes up to 18 hours a day. I could buy a brush in the morning and by the end of the day had worn the bristles completely down to the handle!
P S When I’ve a suite of work I think is good enough, I’ll exhibit them on my web site: www.annisikarts.com
Also, I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who’s creating art on their iPad/tablet computer and to know what apps they are using.
PPS In a future blog I’m going to write about apps and left-handedness. I’d be interested in hearing about fellow creative lefties and their experiences with apps and tech devices in general.
- David Hockney’s Digital Paintings Created On The iPad (psfk.com)
- David Hockney: aged 74, the painter is as prolific (and perverse) as ever (telegraph.co.uk)
- Creating art on an iPad (thestar.com)
- David Hockney’s iPad art comes to Canada (cbc.ca)
- Q&A: iArtist David Hockney on canvassing for new ideas (arts.nationalpost.com)