/ Technology

Would you get arty on an iPad?

David Hockney’s recent exhibition, A Bigger Picture, contained rural images painted not with a paint-brush, pencil or charcoal, but on an iPad. Would you get creative with your tablet?

We interviewed David Hockney in this week’s Tech podcast, where he described the iPad as a ‘fantastic tool’ for creative people.

He added that manufacturers ‘often don’t know the full ways you can use’ new technology, and that it takes artists like David (or ‘mad people’ as he describes them) to experiment with it and take advantage of it as a new medium.

So, how good are these arty apps? Is the iPad the big new medium? We decided to download some painting apps (Brushes and Paper) to our office iPad to try them out. There was no shortage of volunteers to draw for us – an indication of how popular these apps are.

At first it’s a little bizarre drawing directly with your fingers rather than with a pencil or brush, but you soon get used to it. In fact the app was surprisingly good – it’s easy to change colour, alter the saturation levels, as well as the type of brush stroke. With the premium version you can even add layers to enhance the perspective.

Numerous drawing apps

There’s a wealth of drawing apps available for tablets and smartphones, including games like Draw Something, which has already been a worldwide hit. Similarly, photography and music are also getting the tablet treatment with apps such as Instagram and GarageBand.

Instagram, like many other apps of its type, let you apply filters to photos to give them a more stylised and often ‘old-school’ effect. My housemate is obsessed with it, recently taking shots of everything from the kitchen table, to me watching TV. She claims that the Instagram effect made them ‘art’. I’m doubtful of that claim, but it certainly kept her entertained! And she’s not alone – Instagram is one of the top ten free apps downloaded from Apple’s app store.

Whether you’re a budding artist, or a parent trying to keep a child amused on a rainy day, these arty apps are good fun and surprisingly versatile. The rise of the tablet is inspiring amateurs and professionals alike to experiment with new art forms, which is surely a good thing.

Are tablet paintings art?

Some have questioned whether this constitutes real art, but I agree with David Hockney that tablets are another medium and therefore, so if you’re up to the job, why can’t it count as art?

Have you used a tablet to create a piece of art or music? What apps would you recommend? Oh and check out this gallery of our arty iPad efforts – if you’d like to send in your efforts please do!

iPad painting of dead rat in grass iPad painting of sunset iPad painting of a cat on a radiator
Hickue says:
4 October 2012

All of these are pretty good, but the question is is this because of talent or the way you can create effects with technology. Although I suppose it could be argued that an iPad is a tool in the way that a canvas and paintbrush or pencil are.

We couldn’t possibly comment on that 😉 but all we used were brush shapes, colours and fading – this can make it easier, but I still think you need an artistic flair (with the app we used anyway)

They look like they’ve been created on an ipad.

Good artists can make art out of anything, but these look entirely digital

Carol Fox says:
5 October 2012

I love painting on my iPad Brushes app. It allows the imagination to fly and use an enormous variety of colours and textures at the tip of your fingers. David Hockney’s iPad paintings are brilliant and I aim to be 100th as good as he is. An inspiration.

Here’s one of my paintings:

Sorry but that looks like someone has been playing with MS Paint.

To define something as art, you need to remove it from the fact that it is done on an ipad.

If it stands up on it’s own, without any explanation or back-story, and serves no other purpose, then it is art. These images require the excuse of “it was done on an iPad”

Yes you can be creative within the parameters of a computer program, but that is entirely different to “art”, as there are no boundaries or limits.

Hi Dean, I’m not sure I agree! Of course, the nature of art is that different people will have different ideas of what constitutes ‘art’, but in my opinion, the medium isn’t a big part of that.

For example, you say that you can be creative within the parameters of a computer program, but that ‘art’ has no boundaries or limits. However, I’d argue that any artist working in any medium has parameters. So, an oil canvas painter is restricted by the size of their canvas, by the brushes they can use, the colours available to them and so on.

I also think that Carol’s picture stands alone as a landscape, and doesn’t need a back-story. But it’s interesting to hear other perspectives on whether digital art counts as ‘art’.

Carol says:
5 October 2012

I like ArtSet. It’s free and a good app if you are new to painting on an ipad. Truth to tell, you do need artistic ability as well – but don’t let that put you off. It’s like everything else – practise makes, if not perfect, then at least better.

This should help the greetings card industry which ran out of ideas years ago. Carol’s effort above looks much better than some of the pathetic pastiches that pass for art these days.

Carol Fox says:
8 October 2012

Thank you and I paint like that on paper too – I don’t feel it isn’t art? On the other hand, who says it is art? Do we care? Is there a little bit of snobbery creeping in? Thank goodness for different tastes and abilities. Variety is the spice of life and if you look at Hockney’s pictures, they are all different in their own way. How come doing it with your finger is not art and doing it with a brush is? Doesn’t make sense to me. Hockney is a great and constantly changing artist and he keeps experimenting with new media. A life force.

Malc West says:
8 October 2012

Commercial artists have been using computers to produce”art” for years, this is just another type of computer. If you like it fine, if you don’t that’s your prerogative. Artists have displayed their work in all types of materials, sometimes literally garbage, but someone else has decreed that it is art and paid the artist for creating it. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it!

RGKahn says:
12 April 2013

What is art? It is the representation of the seen and unseen. There should be no definite definition of what art is. When you narrowly define art then only art that meets that definition of art is going to be called art and everything else is not. But who elected/selected/named you or anybody else as the judge/jury on what is or is not art? Is there good art? Bad art? I don’t know. All I try to figure is what “art” I like and what I don’t like. I accept things that I like and reject what I don’t like. One program that is good on the iPad is called ArtRage. It is a less featured version that is available on the iMac for less than $50.00. It has intuitive feel to it. There is even a faux Japanese ink and brush program called Zen Brush that is interesting. Only one undo available but it is capable of doing some very fine drawings, depending on the skill of the artist. My thought about this eternal question is this. Buy the iPad and find what works for you. If you like what you do then it matters very little what others might say.

Carol says:
12 April 2013

In agreement with you RGKahn, this can be a touchy subject but we know what we like and what we don’t. We can appreciate the skill and imagination that has gone into some creations but we may not “like” them. Will try the apps you mention. Brushes app available today is not the one I have which is considerably more versatile and easy to use. Art opens the mind and can bring great pleasure, so let’s keep at it even if we are the only one who “like” our efforts.

Denys Owen says:
13 July 2015

Can I download a brush app from ANY tablet, or is it only available on ipads?

Hi Denys, you can download alternative, paint brush apps via the Google Play Store too 🙂 These apps are available for tablets using Android.

Well this is amusing. According to these sites, my iPad painting of ‘A cat on a radiator’ was actually painted by the artist David Hockney.

A review of ‘his’ painting: “He really captures the essence of a blissful cat sleeping. Perched up off the floor, totally relaxed, paw dangling, warmed from below (cats are true connoisseurs of heat), what strikes me most is the kitty’s facial expression. The cat just looks happy, and Hockney nails it so well.” 😻

http://mistertristan.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/cats-in-art-patrick-steens-cat-on.html http://www.thegreatcat.org/the-cat-in-art-and-photos-2/cats-in-art-20th-century/david-hockney-1937-british/

I suppose we could have a Convo on intellectual property rights. Well spotted Patrick.

Clearly Patrick you will be moving on to your first public exhibition, fame and fortune. I like your picture. Why is it worth so much less though than if it were a genuine David Hockney (I am assuming that to be the case).

I have a personal attitude to what art is (as you might imagine). On the one hand, I like art that involves real skill in applying the medium, whether it is representational, impressionist or whatever. On the other, when I look at offerings like unmade beds, a stack of bricks, pickled sheep and dodgy paintings from “acknowledged” artists, and patrons who part with huge sums for them, I have to admire the creators for what they have done – created wealth for themselves. Is it art though? Or is the art in deluding influential people into feeling they must be seen to appreciate it?

I will discredit my credentials now. I see the design of many Victorian railway engines as a form of art, blending function with style and ornamentation. So perhaps art is just what you want it to mean, and why not?

The quality of my painting doesn’t touch David’s. Also the fact that I copied it from a photo shows no real artistic insight into the subject. There is no ‘auteur’ in my painting.

Art is meant to make you think. An unmade bed in an exhibition space makes you think about its subject matter, shocking you into questioning whether it’s art. The fact that it is encouraging you to debate whether it is art, proves to me that it is indeed art.

Here’s the original I copied it from: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/smart-thermostats-a-money-saver-or-time-waster/

I guess there is some artistic interpretation as I did make the cat smile, an expression that I seem to have ‘nailed’ according to the review 😛

I do sense depth and underlying but ephemeral meaning in the transactional interplay between the functionality on the one hand and contentment on the other that could only have been produced by a mind that is at one with the cohesiveness of nature and the starkness of human need. Well done.

Wonderful! :-))))))))

I am not sure whether you are taking the stance of those who patronise the “arts” or teasing. I hope and suspect the latter. As far as I am concerned if you genuinely like it, whether it is art or not is immaterial.

One definition of “Art” is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. Covers most things, doesn’t it, and as appreciation is personal, some people will always have a positive reaction to something.

If an iPad engages people who want to be creative and gives them enjoyment, all to the good. If it then inspires them to take on other forms of artistic expression, even better.

I had to look up “auteur”. it seems more directed at film makers whose interpretation of the screenplay is more important than the screenplay itself (I think).

Anyway, who knows whether David Hockney copies from photos or not?

Robbie Burns might have a view on that :-))

You sure its not Rabbie??
Wifey has one of those i-pad thingys. It plays a lot of rubbish music and I cant get the D**** thing turned off
Goes below a cushion.
Country music should come from America!!!
Could someone do me a St Andrews Cross and St Patrick’s Cross and I could join Ian with a Celtic combo for my avatar

What you are looking for is the red cross of St Patrick overlaid on the Saltire [white cross on blue background]. I haven’t seen such an image but when I use the Bing search engine there are lots of attractive images of St Patrick’s cross in Celtic monumental as well as heraldic form that could probably be combined with St Andrew’s cross as a background. I wouldn’t know how to do that myself – I should have to ask a child. Some images have copyright restrictions.

St Patrick was not of Celtic origin. You might find St Columba or St Brigit more authentic, the former more appropriate as much of his mission was in Scotland. So far as I know there are no photographs available and I don’t know whether there are any signs or symbols associated with them.

The Celtic civilisation was very much earlier and produced some fabulous decorative designs and images in illuminated manuscripts which might be suitable subject to copyright. The three-cornered Celtic Knot design, which you can probably find on your search engine, is widely reproduced and would make a distinctive avatar.

Your right in every bit as best I remember John.
However I would like something that is recognisable by most especially from either side of the Irish sea as I frequent both.
We have strong connections with both parts of the world as do many.
As best I know neither flag falls into that divisive invisible place that I dont want to be associated with.

Robert Burns has been called lots of things including Rabbie and Robbie Burns.

“Wifey has one of those i-pad thingys. It plays a lot of rubbish music and I cant get the D**** thing turned off”

I think you simply depress the centre button for a second or two. A more long-term fix would be to change the settings in System Prefs.

I had a different idea for a fix. It involved water.!!!!

Twas in that place o’ Scotland isle, That bears the name o’ auld King Coil

DeeKay, perhaps you could ask your wife to draw one on her iPad? 🙂

Yes Malcolm, that’s exactly what I want as I can then save it on here and use it as needs be.
She is very good at drawing with a pencil but on her i-pad????

If I got red, white and blue paint could I paint it on the i-pad screen and the i-pad would know what I wanted. Maybe not? At least no one could get that awful music on it again.

You could, then photocopy it on your printer, save the image and hey presto .