You might scoff at drawings made on an iPad. I did too, when I first heard of people doing it. Why? I thought. Where’s the artistry in that? Where’s the skill? Well, I have now joined the craze. I use a simple, free iPad app, Brushes Redux, and my finger; plus an old worn-out no-name-brand stylus; and a new blue-tooth compatible Paper 53 stylus with replaceable tips. And I’ve found that while the technology has many advantages, it actually takes a great deal of dexterity. Is it art? Well, you create it with your own hand – just the medium differs. You decide. Here are some of my landscapes, made while watching TV. Below are the ten reasons which will make you love drawing on the iPad.
Ten reasons to love drawing on the iPad
- The “ Undo” function. You can undo a bad stroke, wrong colour, wobbly line or whatever. On canvas you can’t do that unless you scrape/scrub the paint off, cover it with another layer, attack it with turps, or gesso the heck out of it.
- Ability to save and share your picture. The picture you make can be saved as a high-resolution image, so you can “finish off” the picture when you think it is at its best stage. If, like me, you are in the habit of reworking a drawing or painting until it’s ruined, this is an invaluable function.
- See a replay of the process. With the Brushes Redux app, you can play a movie of the making of the drawing, so you can see exactly how you did it, where you made mistakes, where you had to put more effort in, what worked and what didn’t, etc.
- Having to think big on a small canvas. While you can enlarge the image, the canvas is still the small iPad screen. Detailing is tricky and requires fine eye-hand coordination. To avoid this limitation, you have to work to work in a more abstract way, in big colour areas, bold lines and overall impressions. Good for landscapes, in other words, and good for experimentation.
- Textures on demand. On canvas, if you want to add hair, fur, leaves, lines, metal reflections, any kind of surface texture, you have to paint it on through different stokes and colours. It is time-consuming and difficult to get right. With these apps, you can pick the texture that your brush paints on, same as if you were working in any image editing program like Adobe Photoshop or Gimp.
- Ease of use. You can make a picture lying on the sofa, watching TV. This keeps your hands busy as well as your eyes. No need for all the messy accoutrements and cleaning up afterwards.
- You can overpaint photos. This offers a short-cut: just insert a photo and start painting over it. Unfortunately, it does not help the inexperienced artist. You can still completely screw up the picture. And a bad photo makes for a bad drawing. Some artists use a photo applied to a canvas as a study or drawing over which they apply paint, for example Thomasina Smith, when she created an ancestral portrait for the TV series The Manor Reborn. This works in the same way, and is useful because it is difficult to get a fine, yet strong, controlled line for drawing.
- Intense colours. I have found the colours inevitably come out brighter than I had intended. They look saturated, whereas on canvas you can create something toned down and almost monochrome. However, the saturation does make the pictures more dramatic.
- Immediate duplication. You can create a duplicate or new version of a drawing immediately, just by saving a version and then changing it.
- Low cost production. The iPad is a sunk cost, but the app, like many of its kind, is free, and the least expensive stylus is your fingertip. Canvases, brushes and paints, on the other hand, are an ongoing expense, and having to throw out a canvas because the painting is a dud, feels like throwing money away. The images you see in this post are up to 18” x 11” in size, and I can have them printed out on fine art paper to create a physical art work (same as you would a photo), but the production process itself has no cost attached. And if the app ceases to work – as they do – just delete it and download another one.