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Me, Myself and iPad Art

Me, Myself and iPad Art



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Are you crazy busy during the holiday season with no time to catch your breath and take a break to make art? Just grab your fully-stocked portable iPad art studio that’s only a couple clicks away. Here Danny Gregory reveals the joy of creativity and exploration found in this infinite art medium within arm’s reach.

Plugging In

Don’t get me wrong. Perhaps you’re saying, “Ugh, digital art. Turn the page,” and I’m with you. Or at least I was.

I’ve never much liked the look of obviously digital images made using Illustrator and Photoshop. I like the serendipity found in screw-ups, the little mistakes and hiccups that reveal the human hand.

Besides, I figured I already spend too much time in front of a glowing screen. Was I really going to supplant the one rich analog experience I had each day—drawing in my sketchbook—by yet another electronic gizmo?

I’d heard the same reaction from many of my artist friends who had played around with the iPad for a day or two. They complained that it was too crude. Too cold and fiddly. Too much to learn that gets in the way of the creative flow. But all of these misgivings have since lost their hold on me.

Embracing the Infinite

I’ve been so invigorated by the fresh set of challenges and creative adventures on the iPad that I’m making art like I haven’t in years. I have access to a virtual art supply store under a sheet of glass—watercolor, spray paint, gouache, chalk, charcoal, ink, pencil and more to stimulate and inspire me—not to mention brushes and tools that I’d never find in an art supply store. There are brushes that simulate wood grain or clouds or hair; brushes that I’ve invented myself that have no counterpart in reality, brushes customized to work exactly the way that I want.

There are infinite adjustments, infinite palettes, infinite new techniques and infinite processes to try. Of course, infinity can be overwhelming. The first drawings that I made on the iPad reflect the gluttonous temptation of the smorgasbord that had been dropped in my lap. I was grabbing handfuls of interesting tools and blending wild kaleidoscopes of color and, frankly, was making a jumbled mess that looked like the work of a bunch of 4-year-olds who’d been running amok on the page.

Power to the Palette

I had to slow down in order to really understand this new medium to use it not to reproduce my traditional analog techniques but to explore what it means to work in pure color in light. For years, I’d been struggling to get increasingly intense tones with watercolor. But I’ve now learned how to build fresh, vibrant palettes. I’ve discovered that my greatest pleasure in making iPad art comes from working more as a painter than as a draftsman, thinking in terms of color fields and raw textures instead of line.

I began collecting photos of textures, snapping shots of old sheets of yellowing paper, crumbling plaster walls, cabbage leaves and horse hide. Then I layered them into my digital paintings to create randomness and warmth. Then I eye-dropped color samples from my favorite painters, sucking up palettes from Monet, van Gogh and Hockney. I made portraits, landscapes, still lifes, calligraphy, collages, animation and more.

At Work in a Creative iPad Art Playground

My iPad has become my creative partner and muse, stimulating me in ways I haven’t felt since I started to draw in a sketchbook 30 years ago. I’ve been making a half dozen iPad art images every day, creating in the studio but also in the kitchen, the living room, the subway and the park. The iPad is a wonderful playground with an invitation to play and experiment always within arm’s reach. I no longer think of these tools as metaphors for brushes and pens and palettes of oil paint but instead as extraordinary creative extensions of my imagination that can be used in ways I’ve only just begun to probe.

It’s exciting—and rare—that we get to work on the first draft of an extraordinary new chapter in human creativity. Even if you’ve previously dabbled with the iPad and rejected it, I urge you to try again, to stow your apprehensions and preconceptions for a bit and play like a kid with a fresh new box of 64 (zillion) crayons.


About the Artist

Danny Gregory (dannygregorysblog.com) has written several internationally best-selling books on art and creativity, and his latest, How to Draw Without Talent (North Light Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House). He’s the co-founder of Sketchbook Skool, a video-based art school designed to inspire creative storytelling through illustrated journaling. With classes taught by world-renowned illustrators, artists and educators, Sketchbook Skool encourages its global community of more than 50,000 students to keep a sketchbook, regardless of skill level.

Article and accompanying images, by Danny Gregory, first appeared in Artists Magazine, January/February 2020 issue.


Watch the video: Which Sibling can Customize Their iPad the Best? (August 2022).