The most hectic month on record, ever.

 

London. May 12.

Blimey it’s been a month.

Barman versus Wolverine alternative cover. #LSCC #WelcomeToGuildford

Three weeks ago the students and I trekked our way across London, beginning in Camden Market with an exhibition at Chin Chin Labs of the artwork the kids had made in the ice cream banknote brief. Once we’d done that, and a brief art walk around the historic Stables, we dashed to the Apple Store, Regent Street, to take the stage and speak from our vantage point from the intersection between education and tech arts.

Apple Store and Chin Chin labs.

Apple Store and Chin Chin labs.

It was fab, a bit stressful at times, but a lovely day. Once in a while it’d be nice to walk into something where I have a full charge of energy but that never seems to happen.

4k IWB art working = yes. #SMARTboard #DigiFest15

After that? A week after that in fact, we ran a stand at the JISC Digital Festival. THAT was also awesome. Tech art on SMART board and iPad, demoing our skills to a wide array of Universities, companies and more. It was a huge pleasure to be involved in and the students thoroughly enjoyed being treated like they were the custodians of the images made in a brand new world.

Three days after that? I was invited to christen the Google wall on Tottenham Court Road. It was a lot of fun. A limited tool set to say the least but nice to spread out on a very large canvas. May well be in there again on the following two Thursdays, umming and ahhing about what I should do. After that a very lovely tablet art teaching session at the Ben Uri gallery in London, which is always wonderful to be a part of.

Stylus T Frog and the fish eyed Doodlewall.

One day after that…? Oh, just setting up our stand at the London Super Comics Convention.

With apologies to #CharlieAdlard. Riffing on his #LSCC image. #WelcomeToGuildford

Just so we’re clear, not all months are like this. This has been a bit hectic. At times unpleasantly so (especially when one unsupportive voice tried to raise hers above the fab supportive ones). Regardless – how can you say no to the opportunity to have your students treated like stars? It’s been a month of 18 hour days but their Cvs will shine as a result*

Of course you can draw with us, Cinderella. Sit next to Bat Girl and she'll be happy to help.

So… LSCC. Nice quiet weekend? No. Not really. An excellent weekend, just not a quiet one.

Edward and friend. The awesomely good Mr Edward @Paazola Ofosu on #Promethean IWB and #ArtRage a t #LSCC

We’ve done a lot of cons, many at ExCeL which is a venue I’ve grown to really love, and this was BY FAR my favourite. The space was almost a perfect size. Our new signature move (wallpapering the stand) looked fabulous (courtesy of Rosie, Nick and Tallia) and the IWB shone. It shone when the students used it, it shone when I used it. And it SuperNova’d when Mr Charlie (the Walking Dead) Adlard, Mr Edward (horribly talented artist) Ofosu and Mr Bill (Daredevil, Elektra, New Mutants, Stray Toasters, everything) Sienkiewicz used it. Charlie was, genuinely, one of the nicest people I have ever met and, of course, no-one can argue with his accomplishment as an artist. A true gentleman. Edward is fabulous and I’m horribly envious of his innate ability.

The fabulous Mr Bill @SinKEVitch on a #Promethean IWB. #ArtRage.

Bill? He’s one of the super stars of my comics universe. Everyone has their favourites. Mine include Mr Sienkiewicz and have done since… New Mutants? Elektra? Brought to Light? I honestly can’t remember which is the first. Stray Toasters is a genre definer, a beautiful mix of styles, an artistic statement and a fabulous collection of odd thoughts and malicious toast. The second member of staff posted on his facebook that he’d never seen me go full fanboy. I did. Charlie was, and is, wonderful, but I came to his artwork once my love of comics was fully formed. Bill was one of the artists who taught me to love sequential illustrated narrative all those years ago. Shaking his hand was a huge thrill, teaching him to use ArtRage on a Promethean IWB was an extraordinary experience.

Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), the Guildford College touch screen art students and a muskart eer. #LSCC #WelcomeToGuildford #Magic

And now? What’s next? Um. Don’t know. I know what I want to do, which requires, as ever as always, a little bit of chasing. But for the moment I’m happy. We pulled off a heck of a show, then another. And then one after that. LSCC were wonderful partners, as were JISC. Eating ice cream at Chin Chins is always lovely and the Apple Store is an icon that I probably should have felt more scared to step onto the stage of. We even managed to take a selfie with Mr Johnny Vegas who was kind enough to stand still with a motley bunch of brilliant kids.

...and then, at the end of the day @JohnnyVegasReal was kind enough to pose for a picture with m y students. Fab day!  #LSCC #WelcomeToGuildford

But the main thanks? As ever – the students. I’m a happy teacher. The kids are more than OK. They’re fab. Nicky Morgan et al may be hell bent on destroying the opportunities of education for the masses but the kids still learn and grow as they ever did while they have the chance. The only difference is that, in my case, I tell them they’ll work stupidly hard in and out of my classes at enrolment and, by golly, they do. We’ve done 14 events this year Most have joined in and, I hope, they’ve learnt a huge amount.

That said: I’m dog tired..

*So far the kids have been residential artists at Eurogamer, BETT, Teentech, Surrey Opps, Teentech London, Surrey Skills, Electric Theatre, Shake Shack, MCM, LSCC, Dell, JISC and a few other places I can’t think of or remember. That;’s not, at all, a bad CV to step out of an A level class with.

Building Utopia.

Mad dash update because it’s my dad and my daughters birthday today (very organised to double it up).

But today is also the first day of Mobile World Congress which is probably the show I most want to do… I’m hugely envious of anyone there at the moment.

HTC, for example, will be announcing the m9 (as well as, possibly, other things) and prior to launch they asked people to remix some of their teaser images:

Untitled521.jpeg

Untitled521.jpeg

Untitled521.jpeg

which I did, off and on, when time allowed. I started with these:

one life all.jpg

…before adding a few colours:

#HTCOneLife #Photoshop

before adding a few textures in Snapseed:

Drawn on a M8. #Photoshop #Snapseed #HTCOneLife #MWC15

everything was done in phone, often while on busses :)

You can see all of them here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/56759148@N00/ hope you like. Am looking forward to seeing what’s next, however I’ll miss the official launch as the birthday party beckons :)

Enter the Gold Stylus…

Styluminati. Asus tablet, cheap eBay styli, Fresh Paint app.

Long time readers (hi mum) will know that I’m a bit of a stylus addict. I did a quick head count of my box of styli the other day and, without looking for the ones which have fallen to the bottom of a range of bags and boxes around the house, I reached 130 fairly easily.

A small box of many styli.

There’s no specific stylus I buy more of (although I do seem to have more Nomad, Pogo, Jot, Dagi and Wacom than other names but that shouldn’t be surprising – they’re the ones who make the majority of named styli), and I’m certainly not in a position to buy all of them as they’re released, but I do love to see what each and every new scribble stick will bring to the square glass firework which I like to draw on. Some styli work best on one screen, others refuse to work on another screen. Surface hates Nomad, Hudl 2 loves Maglus and Dagi, for example. Surface RT would only work with Dagi and Jot, Jot doesn’t work, at all, on HP all in one desktops in my experience (which is odd and must have something to do with the amount of connectivity needed to pair to the screen). I mentioned the fact to a couple of HP product managers at BETT last month and they seemed surprised that it was the case or that there were so many alternatives out there (it came up in discussion because I was having a quick draw with Sprout and the stylus they chose to demo it was the Jot classic, which seemed ironic).

SproutMite by @HP. #FreshPaint at #BETT2015.

I have a range of styli that I love, which I’ll get onto later (and which is the subject of a forthcoming article in a very lovely art magazine that I’ve been invited to write for) and I have some which I don’t love. I’ve never gone into a stylus review wanting to give it a good kicking, as all have positives and a stylus which I don’t get on with may be the favourite of another artist. The very lovely Susan Murtaugh loves the Jot Pixelpoint, which I respect but find almost inexplicable, and the equally lovely Mr Matthew ‘Roz’ Hall loved an Alupen which I bought for him way back when at the IAMDA meetup which, again, wasn’t a stylus I gravitated to.

DrawQuest: Tablet art styli.

Studio 53, makers of the extremely user friendly app Paper (by 53), have in the past released the Pencil stylus which has divided opinion (another hugely talented tablet artist – Paul Vera Broadbent – hates it. I like it loads). I wanted the Walnut one but only managed to buy the black one in the end (yes, stylus looks are important to me too :) which makes me, at times, a shallow screen scribble stick consumer). Now they’ve released a Gold Pencil stylus which I think looks fabulous, but which again I can see dividing opinion. Whatever… Don’t like it, don’t buy it! I think it looks striking and confident and can’t wait to use it. With the Maglus a close second the Pencil is, apart from being a thumpingly good stylus, the most beautifully packaged stylus I’ve ever laid hands on…

Stylus T. And a mouth full of blue teeth. Photoshop Touch, iPad, many styli.

Sadly, I’ll probably have to wait. In the same week as the stylus is announced I’ve had to shell out many, MANY, stylus bucks to have our house rewired. Sigh. There is a competition though, running daily from the 4th to the 9th of Feb, which I’m entering daily. The competition is to remix a stylus image with whatever ideas you bring to  the table. This is what I’ve come up with so far (and I’ll edit the post to include any that come up until the 9th)…

day 1:

No, Mr Bond... iPad Mini, Paper, Pencil.

day 2:

It's so shiny... #Paper53 #Pencil53 #StylusTFrog

day 3:

Gold stylus remix.

day 4:

Fiddy Fwee the gold eared stylus bunny.... ipad mini, Paper app and Pencil.

day 5:

#NationalDoodleDay on iPad Mini, Paper app, Dagi and Pencil.

day 6:

The Golden Stylus Surfer. iPad Mini, Paper by 53, Pencil stylus.

day 7:

Mr 53 remix.

day 8:

Mirror Mirror remix 2. iPad mini, Paper, Pencil.

day 9:

Meanwhile, on Hoth.... iPad Mini, Paper app, Pencil and Maglus.

…and A bonus update on the Golden Surfer pic as I flipping LOVE Galactus :)

If I did but wield this stylus...

 

Wish me luck :) (that was then… I didn’t won one of the coveted ten styli boo, but it was fun to get closer to Paper…) Unless you think I need an intervention on Styli matters (quite possible)  in which case wave as I go by :)

Stylus T Frog says hi.

(as always, click on the picture to see a higher resolution version. No idea, now I’ve moved onto a Surface, how to centre the pictures here or make them bigger…. Techno artist I may be but some – probably simple things – fly well over my head..)

Return of the BETT.

 

Touch screen art... Engage. #BETT2015 #SMARTboard.

The past few years have been a rollercoaster and the peaks and troughs generally come at the same times… Event days and the huge amount of work they entail.

I’ve been a teacher for 120 months now and the first 60 passed by in a fairly normal fashion. Teach, paperwork, mark, paperwork, chase students, paperwork etc. Then we were asked to demonstrate tablet art techniques at the World Skills Festival which was thoroughly fabulous.

How do you follow that? With turns at the Barbican, the Royal Academy. Teentech (x4), Bohunt, Magic Summer, Europamer (x2), MCM (x3), Sky Arts, Electric Theatre and much more. So many places we’ve been demonstrating tablet art on so many devices.

And, of course, there was the Gadget Show Live:

…which was the only show where everything has gone to plan despite being the biggest we had done (until recently). 70 or so students from 6 different classes on a seven day working residential. A 120 sq m stand which we filled on a budget smaller than most other stands free drinks budget. It should never have worked… but it did and it was brilliant.

Which brings me to BETT. How does that fit into the calendar? Surely the students would prefer to work at the comic conventions or the computer games shows or the music festivals or the art galleries?

Team Friday McAwesome. #BETT2015.

Well. Yes. Those were fabulous. But this time a surprising number of students who said they enjoyed this one most of the shows we’ve done this year. I loved it, because I love BETT, but they thoroughly enjoyed it too, and it was all down to the tech.

Thanks Team SMART. Had a fab time helping you on your stand. #BETT2015 #SMARTKapp

Sometimes we’re asked to do shows with tech that the students work brilliantly and professionally with at the time but afterwards grumble about an app or a device. We’ve been very spoilt, but to be fair we’re also pretty good at what we do. This year we were asked to draw on the SMART stand (again. They asked us last year too) and we drew on devices as we always do.

#SMARTKapp at #BETT2015 (close up ") ).

Lets be clear though, this year was different. Last year we drew on Interactive Whiteboards and it was good but, at the end of the day we were just drawing on large screens, which we’ve done, a lot.

SMART board art at #BETT2015

This year SMART had a 1-2 sucker punch of devices that I loved using and want in my classroom, stat . I’m absolutely NOT saying this because SMART paid for the travel and sandwiches (to be frank they got a good deal -I charge more for two pictures than they paid for all of the student train fares and I drew significantly more than two pictures over the past four days). SMART amp and Kopp were my two stars of the show. BETT obviously agreed as SMART amp won best collaboration software. If Kapp didn’t win an award it was robbed  its a fabulous piece of tech

Drawing on SMART board. And iPad ")

I’ll write some more later, today is my VERY MUCH DESERVED lazy day following four 15 hour days in a row. However I wanted to show off some pics of my students being thoroughly brilliant, as the always are at a trade show, and I wanted to big up the SMARTboards while BETT is still fresh in people’s minds.

Interview time #SMARTAmp

It was an ace show for us, there are hopefully some very cool things to come out of it too, but for the moment let’s just say that BETT is fab, the students were too, as was SMART and, you know what? So was I :)

As ever as always: lovely to draw on a #SMARTboard at #BETT2015

(Apols for some of the formatting. I’m writing this on a Surface 3 and it’s not allowing me to do some of the things I want…)

Samsung tablet art morning…

 

Lovely tablet art morning with 5-12 year olds.

Every so often, more and more frequently in fact, I’m asked to teach people how to draw and paint on tablets. Depending on who’s asking it can be a range of age groups. At the Ben Uri gallery I work with adults, on a St Peter’s craft morning its children.

Lovely tablet art morning with 5-12 year olds.

In as much as each group brings something new to the table there’s little difference (actually that’s not true… Nine times out of ten adults are far more scared to start than children are). But each group is certainly fun to run.

Lovely tablet art morning with 5-12 year olds.

This morning it was the turn of the 5-12 year olds and it was a lovely session. I could only fit 6 kids on my table and with 25 there it was a busy morning with lots of laughing and coo-ing over peoples shoulders (there were 3 other tables of other things to do on the hall that said so it’s not like people didn’t get the chance to play with something while they were waiting.

Lovely tablet art morning with 5-12 year olds.

I’d brought 6 loaned Samsung Notes with me, 3 Note 10.1s, 2 Note 3s and a Note Pro. Each are great machines and the kids loved drawing on photos of each others faces using the very wonderful ArtRage app.

Lovely tablet art morning with 5-12 year olds.

All in all – lovely fun. A huge shame the Samsungs have to go back this week, have thoroughly enjoyed working with them…

‘Appy Christmas.

(Fresh Tree. Surface Pro 3, ArtRage).

Blimey this year has been very busy indeed. From Eurogamer to Shake Shack, BETT to Teentech there’s been a lot of events, artwork, students and all sorts. It’s been fun at times and sad at other times… But it’s certainly been a hugely memorable year for me for many reasons.

Christmas I’m WAY behind on though. Presents are mostly sorted but the cards are a little trickier and, as ever, I’ve come to a couple of days before Christmas and neither sent nor written any.

I have drawn some, although I’ve not drawn pictures in the ongoing series that I like to follow through the years, but I have draw a few Christmas cards on a range of devices which you can see here:

(Mistletoad. Sony Xperia Z3, Notes app).

(Rud[e]olph. Apple iPad Mini. Penultimate app).

(Christmas Tea. Samsung Galaxy Note 4).

(Happy Humbug 1. iPhone 6+, Harmony web app).

(Happy Humbug 2. iPad Air 2, Paper by 53 app).

(And show me the list where children don’t ask for iPhones? Apple iPad Air 2, Talkboard app).

… and so on. Draw on a range of tablets and phones in a range of shops using a range of apps. But all equally late. Oops.

If you’re a mate or loved one and this is the closest you’re getting to a Christmas card from me this year  sorry. It’s in my diary to start these things much earlier next year.

Regardless – to everyone reading this I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year. Here’s to 2015 which I’m personally quite excited about already and hope treats all of us well…

(Snail Mail. Surface Pro 3, ArtRage).

The Thatch Bug.

I’ve mentioned Mr Nick Thatcher before. If the two of use make an occasional double act then I’m definitely the Watson to his Holmes as he, far more than I, is a bit of a genius.

A couple of weeks ago I booked two tickets to an HTC gathering (more on which later) and Nick and I had one of our occasional meet ups to discuss plans. I said I’d love a snap on clip for my trusty new One M8 and he said he’d see what he could do, as long as I was aware that he’d be out of action for one of the weeks we had before the day with work in Amsterdam.

As it was he made this… A very cool 3d printed shield and lens system for the phone:

((ahem. I’ll tell you what it looks like later :) )).

In fact he made four of them…

((also more of which later)).

It allowed me to take pictures like this:

…on the train going to the venue and these pics:

…in the venue. Lovely stuff. We gave away the hair band lenses (and I hope we see some very cool images form them in the future) and I’ve got the shield clip lens so that I can play with it some more over Christmas.

The plan is, possibly, to make a limited run for sale in the new year. We’ll see, but certainly the vibe was pretty strong on the night…

But again, here’s to Nick, who makes these cool things happen even when he has a bucket load of other things to be doing… You can catch up with his awesome inventions here. If next year pans out the way I think it might remember you (possibly) heard it here first…

Fabulous (and long) week…

It’s been a week… On Monday I reached the grand old age of 44:

On Tuesday a friend of mine and I put the finishing touch to a lovely extra camera lens to my trusty HTC One:

On Weds I did one of my last two residency days at Shake Shack in Covent Garden:

… and I ran the fourth of five tablet art sessions at the Ben Uri gallery. Much fun that is, pictures to come…

On Thursday it was a fabulous night at the HTCMeetup in London:

Where I did a smidge of drawing on One, Desire Eye and Nexus 9:

(photo courtesy of @TheChicGeekBiz).

… and I test drove the Thatch Bug camera lens by the very excellent Mr Nick Thatcher:

…and on Friday I went to see the Hobbit with a very lovely old mate who I’ve seen all six films with on release day…

More blather to come but basically? Today has been, deservedly, a bit of a rest day…

 

The Secret Origin of Bubble Man. Pixelmator app and love.

Sometimes I draw a squiggle on a screen to see what it’ll become. Sometimes it becomes an instantly obvious picture and sometimes it takes a while to coalesce into what I end up drawing. Occasionally I turn the squiggle around unto it become the basis of the picture I want to draw.

This picture became the Secret Origin of Bubble Man almost instantly, although it didn’t have the bubbles. From the first line drawn in the app (Pixelmator app on iPad if you’re interested) I knew it was going to be a pastiche of the famous Batman panel but, in my mind, as I drew, it was going to be a gnome flying through the window – and subsequently be the secret origin of Gnome man. It wasn’t until I’d drawn the Wayne style character in that I realised I wanted the pipe to be blowing bubbles… The only real reason for the decision being that I wanted to play about with some of the photo editing tools in the app to see how they performed.

I’m a BIG fan of Pixelmator on the desktop (although not so much a fan of some of the more recent UI decisions they’ve made. Bringing the filters into a panel rather than a drop down I find unwieldy and less immediate). The app I downloaded on day one and had a quick play with, but have been too busy since to play with.

(this desktop picture was used in the Pixelmator 1 and 2 manuals :) )

Again, I like it a lot, but I find some of the UI decisions confusing and convoluted. It’s a great app, just not an app which is one of the greats – at the moment anyway. It’s V1 so I’m sure there’s a lot to be added in the future, especially if the pace of desktop improvement is matched.

I drew the picture in two 45 min long sittings. The above image is after one session, which I drew in the evening before going to sleep. The top image – closer to completion but I may play with it some more – was worked on in the morning as I woke up. I did, admittedly, have weird dreams but don’t think the content of the picture was to blame :)

Looking through the Pixelmator album I found this:

which remains my favourite Pixelmator picture despite being one of the first ones I did in the program and subsequently too small a pixel depth to do anything with and this:

…which I’d completely forgotten about :)

Sadly it looks like I might be picking up a Win OS device as my next laptop so wouldn’t have access to desktop Pixelmator… And that’s enough reason alone to give me pause to reconsider which laptop I need to get next…

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.