David Hockney caused a stir when he used an Apple iPad to create and exhibit stunning portraits and landscapes at the Royal Academy in London. He wasn’t the first to paint on the device, so it’s safe to say that the buzz around the exhibition was less about the technology than it was about the work itself– colours, expression, size, nature and the seasons.
Hockney is certain that Picasso and Van Gogh would have loved the device. And that was before the ‘resolutionary’ retina display of the new iPad. So, should artists consider popping the iPad into their satchel instead of a sketchbook?
In interviews he’s given for the Guardian and Bloomberg, David Hockney has, while acknowledging the feel of paper and the resistance of the nib as it flows along – sung outright praise for “the new medium” as compared to the iPhone, which he started using to paint flowers in the mornings, using the technology to instantly share the works with friends.
“It’s like an endless piece of paper,” Hockney told the Guardian’s Nick Wroe, highlighting what is probably the singular biggest benefit of the tablet. There’s no need for giant canvases or a warehouse studio to produce a large artwork. The iPad’s “pinch and zoom” functionality affords an artist a huge canvas; you can zoom in to work on the details, or zoom out to get the bigger picture.
Finger, thumb, brush, potato?
You can now buy brushes to paint directly on your iPad; these use special conductive fibre that allow you to paint directly on the screen. The Nomad brushes come in a range of sizes and are hard to distinguish from a watercolour brush, while the Sensu, out just last month, also acts a stylus.
There are plenty of apps one can use to paint. A great feature of ‘Brushes’ is that it records each stroke as an animation, allowing you to play back your painting as a performance.
So, whether you paint with your thumb, fingers or prefer a traditional brush, you’ll find the smooth glass surface of the iPad screen a little faster than paper, which can allow for a great flow to your work. It seems the only thing that hasn’t been invented yet is iPad potato painting app for kids. Next year maybe…
Carry it everywhere
Apple’s iPad now has a retina display which means you can’t see the individual square pixels which make up the image on its screen. Colours are more vivid and lines are sharper than ever, so that as an artist you may even forget that you’re working digitally at all. The technology even enables entire exhibitions to travel instantaneously to Europe, the USA, or anywhere in the world, as Hockney’s already have.
All that’s left is for you to discover a suitable subject, explore your surroundings and see the world anew, so you can get on with honing your craft instead of lumbering around with an easel and waiting for paint to dry.
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