Vermont-based painter Corliss Blakely got into painting on her iPhone almost by accident. "I was at my studio about a year ago waiting for a panel to arrive for a commission. I had some extra time so I picked up my phone and thought I would try a few painting apps. I immediately knew that I had found a new medium. I bought the iPad the day it came out and had a painting on the internet that night."
"I think the iPad is the new canvas for artists. It will give freedom to artists that have been working in the studio for years. It is so portable, you can take it anywhere and paint on location or display your new works to clients – not to mention send it out to the world with a click of your finger. In the summer I live on an island with only solar power, so the iPad 3G will be perfect to send my art out into the world."
Abstract painter Jonathan Grauel had been painting in acrylics and oils for more than 20 years, but it was a freak accident that saw him take up painting on the iPhone.
"In 2008, I had an accident with a table saw that left me without an index finger. I'm also unable to bend my middle finger and have limited sensitivity in my thumb. Unfortunately, it was my left hand and I am a lefty. After the accident my wife and friends surprised me with an iPhone. I soon discovered painting and drawing applications.
"For the most part I 'paint' the same on the iPad/iPhone as I do on canvas, but with a lot less clean-up. I begin with an initial sketch to work out the composition, then add in larger shapes for colours or tones. Next, I build on it layer after layer, adding line, colour and shape. I just use my finger – I like the direct interaction with the art and it feels more natural than a stylus. My damaged middle finger doesn't bend, and so it became a great new drawing instrument."
When asked what he would like Apple to improve on the iPad for painters, he admits: "I would love to be able to project from my iPad as I draw. As the touch sensor technology improves, I hope the control and variation of marks in my iPad drawings will increase as well."
Animator and games designer Michael Heald is another artist who leapt at the chance to create using an iPad.
"As soon as I heard about the iPad I immediately got very excited about the prospect of using it as a portable digital sketchpad. But to my horror, there wasn't going to be a stylus included. 'Finger painting? Apple, are you serious?' I thought.
"Unsurprisingly, drawing on the iPad with my finger seemed very, very primitive and I was almost ready to give up within 20 minutes, but something made me persevere and I'm glad I did! The essence of being able to carry all your art tools around in one very slim digital device is just fabulous. In my opinion, the iPad will become as essential as the Wacom tablet in time.
"I think my next step is to expand my abilities from a technical standpoint. I'm very rusty at painting due to using vectors for so many years, so my short- and long-term goal is to be able to use this device to create final artwork."
Character artist and illustrator Kevin Barba bought an iPad on launch day and hasn't stopped sketching since!
"Using the iPad has helped give me a chance to take a fresh look at my art and look back and re-teach myself the basics of drawing" he tell us. "I recently began doing gesture drawings and I am working on creating loose storyboards so that I can better communicate stories in my art. "
When asked how it has changed the way he works he says, "As funny as this is, I still find myself sketching thumbnails out on Post-It notes before I begin a piece on Brushes. I will for a majority of sketches use my finger for painting. I recently picked up a Pogo Stylus and the Apple iPad case, which has come in handy creating a more comfortable angle of the screen when I work at my desk. I know some iPad artists use custom-cut gloves to avoid accidentally calling up any multi-touch commands, but I don't think that is entirely necessary yet."
Prolific image-maker Fabric Lenny has been painting with his iPhone for just over a year, after being inspired by pop artist David Hockney. "His images remain some of the most vibrant and inspirational created using the device."
A keen fan of the Brushes app, Lenny already sees it as an essential part of his image-making toolkit. "It has really developed since the early versions, and is very intuitive to use. The ability to output high-quality, print-ready files via Wi-Fi is a real bonus."
When asked what he sees as the future for the iPhone as a painting device, he says: "For now the iPhone will remain a way for me to create new images, although I do look forward to the release of the iPad in the UK, as I'm keen to explore the benefits that its large screen offers the artist."
First published in MacFormat Issue 223
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