Tag Archives: sketchbook

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.

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 🙂

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! 🙂

Green Screen envy part deaux.

There’s been a bit of new tecn mentioned around the place the past few weeks hasn’t there.

From Ifa we had news of new Samsungs, Lenovos, Sonys and more… And of course on Tuesday we had the Apple keynote (and, on the Tuesday morning we had a little more info on the Hudl 2 which is one of the more anticipated machines for me. Yes, I am odd like that).

All of which led to these pictures:

(Screen sizes. iPhone 5S and ArtRage app).

(Note Edge draw on Samsung Galaxy 8.9 using Sketchbook app).

(iWatch on Interactive Whiteboard using Didlr online app).

(Giant Enemy iCrab. iMac and Didlr online app).

(Pay Apple. iPhone 5S and ArtRage app).

(Secret Easter Eggs of the Apple Watch 1. iPad 3 and ArtARage app).

The last pic might well become a series of sorts. I’ve certainly got a few more ideas of what could be other Easter Eggs of the Apple Watch (which looks fascinating – and I’d love to buy one – but unlikely I think… We’ll see).

Anyhow: Love a Keynote, me. When’s the next one? 😉



The illustrated Sunday Brunch…

I’ve chatted about him before but a good friend of mine is also an amazing inventor/maker. Occasionally he invents things for me (such as this wonderful tablet easel stand called the Eye) and more often than not he comes along and helps when we do amazing events at the college… Nick was invited to have his new one wheeled self balancing unicycle (link goes to last years version) shown off on Channel 4s Sunday Brunch – as part of promoting the Maker Faire happening next week in Newcastle and I was more than happy to help him carry the unicycles when they were powered down….

All in all it’s been a heck of a weekend. Let’s recap shall we?

On arrival, once we’d safely stowed the one wheeled objects away of course, we headed out for dinner. That was always going to be at Honest Burger in Camden. Because pudding in Camden is always:

Chin Chins
, but you knew that, right? This flavour is Mango sorbet with hot sawwce (chilli, garlic and other fiery ingredients) and Pistachio and Cardamon powder. Yum…. However:


Post dinner at Honest (yes, pudding came first) and drinkies at the Grafton we headed back to the hotel to have a very lovely chat with the Tech Camp team about their project that they would be showing off (something very cool called a Time Machine – strobe illuminated water droplets that could slow, stop and move backwards… ) prior to shut eye.

Five hours later and it was back up and running time. But that’s unfair on the hotel, which was excellent. Especially good were the complimentary Dairylea dunkers that had to be seen to be believed:


Onto the production studio for the show and a complimentary bacon sandwich, coffee and time for two pictures to be drawn on my trusty Tesco Hudl:


I honestly drew these before ‘the incident’ and no, I’m no claiming some sort of Odessa Effect style pictoral foreshadowing here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were whisked past a very cool ceiling window:

before Nick was filmed riding the Jackal:

It was deemed more suitable for Nick to drive the Jackal after Tim the presenter flew off the front of the machine having let go of the dead mans switch (which is perfectly understandable as a thing to do. I’ve done similar myself on the Noway Nick built). I didn’t take a photo but it’s there for all to see on 4OD as of tomorrow I think. He ducked and rolled well though and was smiling/still positive about the invention, which was very good of him. Did cause a slight wound to the Jackal:

…but if you’re going to get a ding then for it to happen on a pre recorded sequence for a live morning show on a major TV network seems the best way of doing it.

Pre-record completed there was a run through of the sequence, which they were kind enough to let me stand in the background and draw:

and then after a short wait (when a slight debate about whether a potentially strobing light was more dangerous than a Tesla Coil or a laser gun):

we were onto the live sequence itself:

…and, since I didn’t get thrown out immediately I drew Yvette Fielding prior to her interview segment which followed the Maker Faire sequence.

… and then I was chucked out 🙂 Partially as a taxi was  due to arrive to take Nick and I, and the unicycles, back to rainy Surrey. Which was a real shame… I’d have loved to keep drawing – especially would like to have drawn Lethal Bizzle and Katy B – but time was pressing and the studio staff had a million thinks to think about without also having to worry about an orange hairy potential trip hazard.

Then it was catch up with the family, sharing Easter presents, watching son play Wii Fit and, to chill, I hooked up with @DQSlothdude on iPad/Drawing Together app (all of the pictures above were drawn on my Hudl using either Sketchbook or Photoshop Touch) and drew this:

Basically? An Easter to remember 🙂

A million things on a never ending tick list…

I’m painfully aware I’ve neither blogged about Digital Surrey nor, from this weekend, Bohunt STEMfest. Both were college tech happenings where the students shone very brightly indeed and I look forward to writing about… But time, and stuff, just gets in the way.

The irony, as my wife would quite happily mention, is that I can find 30 minutes to draw a picture of Wolverine on a Nintendo 3DS XL (true) but can’t find the (probably) similar amount of time to do the other things that need doing.

Which is true. No idea – prevarication I guess. Just sometimes I sit and stare at a screen with a blank mind and a feeling of doom and other times I can sit and draw and that takes my mind off things.

This is one of the drawings (rather than the doom side). Yesterday had an EQR (External Quality Review) and it was very positive and kind and still threw up some things that I thought I was getting right but can obviously do better. Once I’d written up their feedback into a list of things that need to be done and so on I was sat with little in the way of energy left. So I drew, and it didn’t renew the energy levels, but it was a lovely escape. I didn’t know what to draw, nor what to draw on (I had an iPad and 3DS on me) but the 3DS came out of the bag first and the initial scribble looked a little like Wolverine so there you go, decision made. Art Academy is a fab art package (on both formats) and well worth using. Apart from the smaller screen ratio/size I don’t see it as a lesser tool than some of the tablet apps at all. The way the paint merges, pencils blend etc is beautifully realised.

So: Wolverine, drawn on Nintendo 3DS XL using the 3DS’ in built stylus and New Art Academy (which I mistakenly said on the video was Sketchbook but it suddenly strikes me that that’s the Wii U version = DOH ME).

(On a different but related side of things this was drawn as one of my Mornin’ Drawins on Sunday for a Nintendo Animal Crossing competition but, true to form, I couldn’t find the upload method until too late… boo, but nice enough to start the day with. Anyhow Wolverine was drawn on 3DS XL and the pic below was drawn on Wii U using Art Academy Sketchbook).

Hope you like, regardless of the criminal mis-information embedded into the moving visual…

Drawing for drawings sake… And sanity also… :)

So as mentioned aforehand I’ve joined a sketchbook exchange and these are previews of the fruits of the first burst of drawing, off and on. Full pics to follow sometime in the future, but it’s nice to get back to pencils and water 🙂

And of course that led me back to the iPod with this elaboration of one of the sketchpad images. Both are different beasts of course, the original is pencil and wash on unsuitable paper (sorry, I don’t want to be a sketchpad snob but I really do dislike the WHSmith grey plastic cover pads…) and the other is drawn using the Brushes app as ever as always… 🙂

In other news had an up/down week. Loads of stuff done – primarily the art exhibition at the college I work at – more details on that one later – and as a result I’m walking around like a tired lil Zombie. And that leads onto my next news… Book 8 seems to be moving through the option process quite well at the moment which is nice. Still hoping and praying for some success on the Sylver front but for the moment it’s nice to know that having gone back to square one in many ways (Sylver trilogy finished, not a part of Guildford Book Festival this year, not doing FISH so a lot of this year has felt like a complete reboot) I might not be stuck there for as long as I worried I might…

Sketchbook Pro face

OK now some of you may have noticed I’m very much into the Brushes app on iPad and iPod. That’s not to say that I’m not open to the idea of other apps, nor do I avoid contact that isn’t anything Brush related. Far from it; I have a page of apps devoted to the creative tools and have an interest in all of them (Sketchbook, Art Studio, Brushes beta, Inspire, Layers, Harmonious, Typedrawing, Artisan, SpawnHD, iFractal and Trippingfest in case you’re wondering). I just haven’t found anything I like anywhere near as much as I do Brushes.

It’s not perfect: the viewer tool is a little broken on the iPod -> Mac version (taking the layer order over the drawn order as timeline priority), the line tool isn’t as strong as Sketchbook’s (no auto-smoothing), there’s no move layer tool on the iPod version (although issue 1 and 3 have been fixed in the iPad version) and so on. I can think of a dozen or more improvements I’d love to suggest to Steve Sprang if we had the chance to chat about what would be amazing to see in future releases (movie exporter with selectable render layers, type, custom brush designer, brush rotation alongside spacing, psd file export and so on) but the first thing I would say would be ‘thanks for such an amazing tool. It’s a job to use.’

So, not perfect but awesome regardless.

That said I do often try and create pictures with the other apps, I just find their limitations, particularly their UI limitations, immensely frustrating. Layers has some sweet touches but shake for interface? No thanks (yes I know this has been optioned but even so a crackers idea. Still, it was the first tool with layers so big kudos to them for that), Art Studio has a LOVELY dry brush tool but, again, I find the UI clumsy and unwieldy. Sketchbook has a beautiful and useful mirror drawing tool which I LOVE to pieces, as well as a sweet line smoothing tool but is slooooow and the UI is, again, aimed for precision and thoughtful contemplation rather than speed of doodlage. I want to draw and think as little as possible about the steps I have to take to progress forwards. Sketchbook’s UI feels like a satnav set to a foreign language.

That said I did doodle this today (edit: yesterday but have been sick as a sickpig through night hence delay) which is as far as I could get. I would like to have coloured it in more and smoothed some of the lines but enough was enough. Maybe one day I’ll get a workflow sorted on another app but, for the moment, Brushes hits the speed spot.