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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More on Hockney's Pawings

A couple days after making a post about getting my sea legs with iPhone's Brushes app, a really good article about David Hockney's iPhone paintings showed up in my mailbox, via the New York Review of Books. The article is also online, and I highly recommend giving it a read (although there is one piece of genuine misinformation in it: namely, that you can't use a stylus with the app. It's interesting info that Hockney exclusively uses his thumb to paint on the iPhone, but the pogo stylus works just fine).

One amusing detail from the article is the author's equivocal language when it comes to describing the act of digital painting:
...Brushes, which allows the user digitally to smear, or draw, or fingerpaint (it's not yet entirely clear what the proper verb should be for this novel activity), to create highly sophisticated full-color images directly on the device's screen...

At first glance, I thought this was a ridiculous hangup, but in thinking it over, "Brushes" really does blur the distinction between drawing and painting. Maybe it'd make sense to hybridize the words: "dainting" or "pawing," the latter being especially suitable for those who use their thumbs.

At any rate, the author of the article, Lawrence Weschler, displays a nice sensitivity to the technical aspects of working with the iPhone -- the way the black screen can function as a looking glass, and the appeal of the screen's self-illumination. The self-illumination makes the screen a natural for sketching in the dark, opening up possibilities for sketching at dawn or dusk (or in the dead of night). The flip side, however, is that full sunlight (which is a boon to paper or canvas) presents problems of reflection on the glass. I actually tried to make a picture of the beach at Sand Harbor one day, and found it fairly impossible to make headway against the glare on the screen.

Hockney, as usual, makes for a lively source of quotes. It's funny that he doesn't like the new version of Brushes, "Brushes 2" -- I haven't yet tried it out myself, but I'm kind of dying to, since it has layers, something I was really aching for in the original version. I don't know if he's just being cantankerous, but you have to love his explanation that he's not actually painting on his phone: "it's just that occasionally I speak on my sketch pad."

I forgot, in my last couple postings on Brushes, to post a link to the Flickr Brushes group, which has a wide variety of art made with the app. There's a lot of attractive work being posted there. Three participating artists whose work I've enjoyed are:

José Carlos Lollo

fhierro (from Madrid)

Fabric Lenny

1 comment:

  1. This was a fantastic article in the NYT; I read it and sympathized with Hockney because he has often been, as the journalist pointed out, "seen as a lightweight," for dabbling in many different modes over his career. Of course it is ridiculous to question his seriousness--but it is helpful to remember that innovators are often questioned and misunderstood!