The Hockney movie.

David Hockney is a national treasure. Let’s start with that as a premise. You don’t have to like him, you don’t have to agree with him, you don’t have to enjoy or understand his artwork but few artists – if any – have managed to ease themselves in and out of fashion, to take on so many styles and media and to stay at the top of their game as well as he has, for as long as he has. David Hockney is someone the UK should be very proud of as one of their most creative sons.

As I’m a touch screen artist you might be expecting this to be an ode to his work on Apple devices but this isn’t the case. Director Randall Wright has created a well rounded portrait of Hockney which focuses on both a wide range of his work and the most intimate part of anyone’s soul: the desire to love and be loved.

Going into the film, reading the advance notes, you could be forgiven for anticipating a sombre piece. The comments alongside the movie suggest a intimate portrait of a man who has suffered personal loss – most horribly during the Aids epidemic of the 80s – and at times rejection at the hands of the established art community, friends and lovers. This is certainly a part of the film but the whole story is far more balanced: it captures the loss but also the joy of confident creativity. In two hours it was never going to tell the whole story – some important pieces of artwork never feature and some, like The Bigger Splash, I would love to have seen extra time given to (I eagerly await a DVD in the hope that extras and deleted scenes might give me more to enjoy and to think about).

Viewers are promised ‘the definitive exploration of one of the most important artists of his generation’. This is, and isn’t, the case. We see him throughout his long and extraordinary career and those lucky enough to be at the premier were granted an additional 45 minutes of live Q and A in his L.A. studio but Hockney isn’t a man so easily summed up. This is an entrancing look at his life and his loves and for that should be essential viewing not only for any aspiring artist but for anyone who has ever asked an artist the question ‘how do you know what to paint?’

On the way out of the cinema (the very lovely Phoenix Picturehouse in Oxford) I found myself looking at the colours and the objects which surrounded me in a different way and I wished that Google Glass could somehow morph into Hockney’s eye (and, of course, we all know what the glass frames would look like from a design perspective). To see the world as fearlessly, as colourfully and as specifically as he does would be a wonderful thing. It’s possible that this film is as close as I’ll get (although it did also make me want to dig out my Bigger Picture DVD as soon as I arrived home).

It also made me want to paint the picture below on the train. Inspiring stuff, I look forward to seeing the movie again.

I was lucky enough to attend the Fresh Flowers exhibition in Paris and even luckier to have been asked to teach Royal Academy staff members how to draw on an iPad using the app that David uses yet in the Royal Academy exhibition it was the multi camera time and space images he made which excited me the most. I could (and did) sit and watch them for hours as they were so all encompassing and engaging. The film, while not similar in terms of scope or subject matter, I also didn’t want to end.

Teentech Surrey.

In a slightly ironic move (given Nicky Morgan’s comments yesterday) Wednesday saw the students and I deliver a full days teaching of tablet art technique to a range of year 10 and 11 students from a wide range of schools.

Excellent fun it was too, although I was utterly dog tired when I managed to drag my weary feet home… We used Flowpaper (which allowed me to talk about the very talented artist/programmer Richard ‘Dr’ Bailey who created some wonderfully beautiful procedural art images. After that we created an image in Brushes app (v2. v3 sadly doesn’t appeal to me in the same way) which allowed me to talk a little about Hockney and the RA. It’s a bit mean of me to teach on the app, really, as it’s not commercially available but it is a masterclass in UI design, even now years on from this version release and a year or so since it was pulled from the (app) shelf. Brushes remains one of the best tablet art apps which is what makes it all the sadder that you can’t buy it.

Finally, we did a picture in ArtRage app, a hugely powerful and phenomenally lovely piece of software available for desktop and tablet. It was good fun to use and, while the students all had their favourite app, this was the one that the teachers gravitated towards the most.

A lot of work then, especially as it was my day off, but it was a lot of fun. Everyone seemed to have a good time and we had some great pictures drawn on the devices. Bearing in mind each kid had less than 15 minutes to draw on the screens I think we came out with some very nice pieces of work.

As well as being my day off it was also the day of no classes for most of the students who joined me. Despite that they also did a full days work, never complaining (well, apart from not enough food in one students case) and being as good as I could have hoped. Well done them, as always. On their break, between sessions 5 and 6, the students sat around to do even more work, drawing the NAO Active Robot who made a short appearance on our stand. I got to draw for 20 minutes too, so all told it was a happy time…

(I will add some of their pics to the blog soon but as soon as I arrived back I put the iPads in the classroom and headed off home. That’s an update to come…)

Drawquest.

Once upon a time there was a fabulous app called Drawquest. It was launched as a community based art app and, very quickly it became a huge melting pot of lovely artists drawing pictures to the theme of the day, whatever that was.

Sadly the app was awesome but the business plan was fluid and, before its time, the funding dried up. Sadly the app base was hacked (I believe this was the order of events) and then soon after the app was taken down from the store.

All hugely sad. Many of the artists who met up on DQ still chat on Twitter and some friendships will last for a long time I hope. A couple of days ago the Drawquest team sent an email to all users saying that the pictures which had been made were downloadable, so I have, and some of my favourites are here.

…and the very excellent Mr Chris and I had a long running, drawn out fight scene… Here’s one page worth, hopefully he and I will manage to put it all together in one place now:

The DQ team signed their email off with ‘we still miss the Drawquest community dearly’.

Oh Drawquest, we miss you too.

Tablet art at Shake Shack, Covent Garden.

Well, some days are just worth writing about.

I’ve been lucky enough to be selected as Shack Shack’s artist in residence until Christmas. It was a great opportunity which has only become more beautiful and wonderful with the absolutely fabulous Christmas decorations which they have put up – huge and extraordinary baubles.

…which made it a fabulous place to run a tablet art class:

Time wise it was a tricky one… We had to be at the College in the morning and then had the afternoon and early evening to be there. We got the first train possible and arrived just shy of 3pm. All of the students found their seats and I dished out the tablets we would be using: 3 x Samsung Note 10.1s, 5 x Galaxy Note 3s, a Galaxy tab 10.1 and a Note Pro 12.9 inch tablet.

Basically? Samsung all the way :) Which is fine – I’ve often said how much I like the S-Pen integration and the only thing that has given me hesitation about the devices have been the lack of some of my favourite apps.

But one of my favourite apps, ArtRage, has hit the Android store in a partnership with Samsung for the next few months (it’ll be available on other Android devices in 2015.

We were joined by three very cool tablet artists: Jonathan Lawlor, Edward Ofosu and Valerie Beeby. I’ll post their artwork into this thread soon but here are some of the pieces my students did, on their first shot with ArtRage on Samsung Galaxy tablets. We had an hour and a half to draw and Shake Shack spoiled us rotten.

and the first piece by one of the visiting artists (mine is the picture above this text incidentally) is by the very fabulous Edward Ofosu :)

More to come… More pics being uploaded tomorrow and over the weekend :) The very marvellous Dame Kath of Jones (below) took a huge amount of photos which I can’t wait to see when I catch up with her next…

This Android picture…

This picture:

…was drawn on an HTC One M8 using a Plai eStylo and the very fab Autodesk Sketchbook app. This is unusual for two/three reasons; One: I now have a phone which is top of the range, which is nice (and spectacularly unusual for me – normally I rely on the phone one or two gens behind and only if I can get it for a cheap second hand price – part time teaching not making me rich beyond my wildest dreams) and Two: the eStylo works with barely anything… As I’ve mentioned before the HTC is the screen which, still, takes more styli than any other so I’m really looking forward to drawing on it more… The third possible reason is that I’ve just reviewed Sketchbook for a well known Mac magazine which is nice.

This picture:

…was drawn on a Samsung Note 3 using ArtRage app which has recently been released for Samsung tablets (partially because of their excellent integration with the S Pens). All good stuff – ArtRage is one of my favourite art apps out there.

This picture:

…was drawn on a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet using ArtRage again.

… and of course you all know I love my Hudls, right?

 

Wacom Fineline stylus (my current favourite) drawn on Didlr app on a Hudl 2. Thoroughly enjoying the Fineline – I also drew it on the iPad the other day (still in ArtRage).

Not by purpose but I do seem to be on a bit more of an Android kick at the moment. ArtRage is a phenomenal app and I’m delighted to see it on a larger range of machines :) (that’s not to say that I’m not enjoying drawing on Surface tablets and the brief dalliances I’ve had with the iPad Air 2… And I really want to draw on the Nexus 9… And the HP Sprout as well, come to that). But the HTC One M8 is an excellent phone to draw on and I’m looking forward to spending time with the Samsung Note 3, 10.1 and Pro over the next week.

More, on the Android/ArtRage side of things to come. Exciting things happening tomorrow…

Therapeutic draw session in PC World, Guildford.

The half term break has been neither restful nor peaceful so a therapeutic draw session was called for.

First off – the Samsung Galaxy Pro:

…which I was delighted to see had S Note app installed. That made me smile – it’s something I’m more than happy to use to create a picture.

That was closely followed by an HP Pavilion 11 inch laptop:

Which I was also delighted to see had the very fab Fresh Paint app on. So delighted I completely forgot to take anything like a good photograph of (and had also forgotten to bring a USB stick with me so was doubly stuck).

That was followed by a Lenovo Yoga 2:

…which only had Paint on. That’s not terrible – it’s not a bad drawing app at all. But Fresh Paint is the first thing I always look for on a Windows 8 touch screen. I also couldn’t find a way to get rid of the ‘Touch here to find out more’ dialog box…

The last machine I drew on was the Surface Pro 3 which I like a lot. I even managed to persuade a staff member to try out the app (Fresh Paint again) and he did a pretty good job indeed for a first time on a touch screen :)

All in all a lovely 90 minutes drawing on a range of touch screens. If I had the money I’d have bought all of them – there weren’t any I disliked the screens or machines of.

Ironically I went in in the hope that they might have a Google Nexus 9 and had a few conversations about it… but that’s still to arrive (although the staff were as keen as I am to see the tablet. But hey, I can always pop back later and draw again :) )

Digital art Big Draw workshop at the Electric Theatre, Guildford.

As if often the case in a half term The Electric Theatre in Guildford asked me to run a couple of art sessions for 5-9 year olds. Mondays theme was traditional art and Wednesday was digital.

We started, as almost all of my classes do, with a couple of psychological tricks to explain how easy drawing is. Once that barrier is broken (about 10 minutes in if I’m taking the scenic route) we started to draw on tablet.

And excellent fun it was too, as these sessions often tend to be :)


On the touch screens we started with the very lovely Tesco Hudl (first generation) and used Autodesk Sketchbook to take photos of drawn owls and colour them:

Then we did a little bit of face liquifying (still on Hudl) which went down brilliantly :)

We did a bit of Autostitch panorama photo taking:

(click on the photos for larger versions)

…and we drew on a range of apps:

Fresh Paint app on Surface RT.

Brushes app (v2) on iPad.

Autodesk Sketchbook on Hudl.

Adobe Photoshop on Hudl.

ArtRage on iPad.

All in all? A lot of fun and, I think, a good few new 6 year old touch screen artists ready to carry on where they left off after the 2 hour session (all asked which apps and styli they should buy and all of the parents/grandparents looked relieved when I told them that the prices were generally low and affordable). The feedback was excellent with the often asked question ‘are you going to do more of these sessions’ becoming more and more pressing on my mind :) Hopefully soon (although not until early 2015 that said).

I was also lucky enough to be joined by three of my College students – all very capable tablet art tutors in their own right – which meant that if I’d so wanted I could have delegated all of the work to them! I didn’t of course – doing youth arts work is too much fun to not be involved in – but it was lovely to know that I could hand off to them when I wanted the younger kids to have some extra assistance…

Next up? Half a days rest. I think I’ve earned it :)

Traditional art Big Draw workshop at the Electric Theatre, Guildford.

I’m lucky that my job is often my hobby (and vice versa).

Witness the Electric Theatre Family Festivals, for example :) I get to stand and run around and draw with dozens of lovely kids and their parents and grandparents and, generally, do traditional and touch screen drawings together. I’ve done various things there on Surface tablet, Hudl and iPad but the sessions which are the most popular are almost always the Shrink Plastic sessions

On Monday the ‘Leccy asked me to run a drawing session with a theme of making cities. The thing that came to mind was allowing the kids to rampage through cities as a monster or a superhero… But I was aware that when you have a dozen kids all asking for help at the same time, not to mention the fact that you’ll be tied to an oven cooking shrink plastic for much of the session, on my own, then it all had to be fairly self explanatory and easy to conduct. On a material budget of £30.

So we made masks:

and we made city buildings to be added to an ever growing Electric City…

…which anyone could be photographed in…

but, of course, the major part of the session was Shrink Plastic…

…and, all in all, it was  a very lovely five hours of creative chaos, drawing, cooking shrink plastic, chatting and laughing.

Except for when pumpkins were scarily (but fabulously :) ) drawn… Aaargh. Back there soon to do tablet art again and I’m hopeful that’s an equally lovely session.

Adventures on Touch Screens.

It’s been a busy week at Kercal central on a range of screens…


I had a quick play on an Apple iPad Air 2 following listening to an artist talk at the Covent Garden Apple Store. It’s as nice a device as you would expect (although I increasingly wonder if their obsession with thinness needs an intervention). The screen is beautiful and, with a conscious movement towards Replay and Pixelmator coming for me on tablet I think I should be looking at updating come Christmas time (‘cos there’s no way I’ll afford it sooner).

I drew this in a Moleskine (which  I’ll find and add later) and then on a Surface RT on a train to London (using the very fab Fresh Paint app). Kudos to Arthouse Meath in Godalming for reminding me how funky a flamingo can be.

I am seriously liking the photo sphere camera setting on the Hudl 2. Click on the pic for larger formats…

And on the Shake Shack side I drew this in 11 minutes while they filmed me on time lapse. Look forward to seeing the artwork come to be on the page (well, screen). I am THOROUGHLY enjoying the art residency there :) Bigger blog on that to come.

And finally we have a large touch screen in at work to evaluate. I booked two 45 min slots and came out with these pics:


MS Paint, Photoshop and Clevertouch built in software respectively.

Finally also had a quick draw on a Lenovo tablet in PC World while waiting to see if there was a Google rep near the Chrome desk (only weekends, sigh. But yes, I do want to draw on a Nexus 9 STAT!)

Screen Frenzy! :)

Anatomy of a slug.

One of my fab students drew a slug while we were at Surrey Opps Fair…

…and the idea sort of… um… hmm. Stuck? Is that the right word?

So on the minibus returning from the show I drew most of this on my trusty and very much loved Hudl (first gen):

Depressed Slug. Hudl, Adobe Photoshop Touch, eBay stylus.

Then, on my walk about leaves yesterday I used my HUdl 2 to take a couple of texture photos which I thought would suit the picture. When I got home I emailed them to myself (not having any better idea to transfer the files, Android is still a mystery to me in some ways) and added them to the picture which gave me this:


…which is miles better (although not for the slug obviously).

Then, overnight (while I was semi-successfully sleeping) I realised I should have moved the mouth and added a small outline to the slug. Which gave me this:

And so on. I might change the outlines in the foot imprint but for the most part will stick with it where it is. Mmmm sluggy.