Lesson #1 – Horizontal Marks


I’ve been thinking about the process of learning art. So I thought I’d go back to the very beginning and as a self imposed assignment paint a picture using only horizontal brush strokes. Somewhere I read a theory that people progress through developmental stages. First you have fun making marks on paper. Then you try various types of marks – horizontal, vertical, circular, diagonal. Then comes differentiation of shape – square, circle, triangle. Next is recognition of edge and volume, then size, and finally space and depth. So, by limiting myself to using just horizontal marks I thought I might trigger an early experience.

Additionally, I placed my iPad in a wire book stand so that it stood up by itself almost vertically on the table as if it were a canvas on an easel and I held my homemade stylus straight up and down between thumb and fingers palm facing me with the tip pointing up. Normally I hold my iPad in my lap and I paint with my finger or hold my stylus like a writing instrument.

It worked. The situation was odd enough that I became aware of the process and realized the many choices and decisions that must make it confusing and overwhelming to someone just starting. What brush size do you use? Where do you start and how do you proceed? What colors do you use and how do you pick them? How much paint thinner do you use? What happens when you work one color into another? How do you blend to a different value or another color? When do you stop? There’s really a lot going on. Much of this is tacit knowledge as opposed to explicit knowledge. It’s the stuff you don’t know you know; likely the stuff you learned early on and is so engrained that it no longer raises to a level of consciousness. It’s stuff that’s hard wired and when pointed out to you, you say, “Oh yeah, you do that, but it’s so obvious I didn’t think it was worth mentioning”.

This must be what makes learning art so challenging and why it can only be done by doing through observation, imitation, and practice. You can’t really learn by reading about it or by following a prescribed step-by-step process. Jim

Sent from my iPad

Experimental Brush Work


Experimenting today with getting a painterly look by combining brush marks made first in Wasabi then in Artist’s Touch and finally in Brushes. Wasabi provides wonderfully rich colors and thick oil brush marks. Artist’s Touch quickly adds chalk like strokes. I can import each version into Brushes in separate layers and then erase back one layer to reveal the other kind of brush strokes. I can also add brush strokes and do touch up in another layer. For instance, between the two trees I used various Brushes tools to add strokes using the same colors found to the left of the small tree.


Sent from my iPad


Working today to take this particular app mix to the next level. I like this look of a combination of watercolor and batik.

This is my interpretation of a work by Winslow Homer – Hurricane, a watercolor painted in the Bahamas in 1884.

iTouch, iDoodle 2, Artist’s Touch, DXP, and Brushes 2.1 apps, Pogo Stylus and finger.

Self Portrait


I’m experimenting today with textures. I took my picture with the MacBook’s built-in camera using the Photo Booth application. Then I added the picture to iPhoto and synched my iPod Touch to get the picture on the iPod. I first used the Artists Touch app to rough out the image and then I finished it in Brushes.
I’m always impressed by how dots of color form an image when viewed from a distance. When you get back far enough, you can see that I’m wearing glasses. The image appears photographic, but up close it’s just a bunch of dots and stripes.

Egg Shells


“White-on white” is a traditional photography assignment. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while now with Brushes. I arranged the white egg shells on a white plate and set them next to a large window just out of the direct sun. This created distinct but soft shadows.
I worked by looking at a reference photo on my MacBook while painting on the Touch.


Cherry Tree


It was a beautiful day today and the cherry trees are in full bloom. I sat out in the backyard and sketched this in about 20 minutes.
I tried two new things. First of all I made a paper texture in Photoshop using a combination of the Messotint and Grain filters. You can see a little of the original texture at the base of the tree. I then used a large transparent brush to paint in the the rich blue sky.
The other thing I tried was to paint without my glasses on. I’m extremely nearsighted. I attempted to paint what I saw in order to achieve an impressionistic rendering. At the very end I put my glasses back on to add a little detail. This “trick” really worked. It helped me ignore the details and see the whole. I became much more aware of colors and values and basic shapes.

Mountain Lake


This started as a scribbling texture test that turned into the sky above the mountains and evolved from there. Reminds me of the high mountain lakes of the Cascades. I really like the way the sky turned out and the colors in the lake.

Infinite iPod


This one was more of a construction than a drawing. I have a hard time making a clean black line in Brushes. Usually I get a ragged line that’s 2 or 3 pixels wide and I have to undo or go in with white and attempt to clean up the line. Very laborious! It was a good lesson.
I did the layout in Photoshop. I scanned the Touch on a flatbed scanner and used that image for the outermost iPod. I also photographed my hand holding the iPod and I pasted that image onto the screen of each iPod rotating it a bit to the left each time. There are actually 10 levels of iPods in the reference photo. In Brushes I was only able to draw 6 levels. The limiting factor was the wide of the line. I used the same (smallest) line width throughout the drawing.
The idea came to me while drawing the Hand X-Ray. Initially I was going to call it “Refrigerator Art” and use the line drawing on the screen of the iPod and photograph it hanging on the refrigerator. But after experimenting with it, I found I preferred the line drawing by itself.


Hand X-Ray


This is a “gag” drawing. I wanted to hold the iPod in my left hand and make it look like it was taking an x-ray. (See below). I used Google image search to find several hand x-rays which I used to learn what x-rays looked like. Bones are denser on the edges. I then drew the hand outline to line up with my hand as I held the iPod and filled in the bones looking at the reference photos for ideas about detail and shading. Later I discovered that several people had written X-Ray apps for the iPhone/Touch. So, the idea was not unique.




This is my second try at sketching on location. I drew this in late afternoon in about 20 minutes. I tried letting color define the shape. Instead of drawing the shapes first and then filling in with color, I looked at and then painted in the local color. The overlapping colors then defined the shapes. This worked well in the lower part of the stems and in the flowers themselves.
Here’s a comparison shot of the sketch and the subject.


Line Study


I’m just experimenting with line weight. Brushes has 3 different brushes and I wanted to compare the smallest setting of each brush to see if they looked different. I think brush #2 gives a slightly finer line.
When you save the large version as a tiff in Brushes Viewer, you lose some contrast. So, I increased the contrast a bit in Photoshop using Curves.



This is another image made with the Oil Canvas app. You start with a photo. In this case I used a photo I took of the birch trees in our front yard. “Big Canvas”, the makers of the app, have a Photo Sharing web service where you can??post your drawings.

Tree Sketch


This is my first attempt at doing a 10 minute sketch on location. It’s pretty primitive, but it does capture the idea of the scene. I was trying to get the basic shapes, colors and tonalities. What caught my eye were the interesting shadows of the limbs cast on the lawn and the daffodils. I had two difficulties – keeping an eye on the time and seeing the iPod’s screen in the bright sunlight. Next time I think I’ll set an alarm on my watch so I won’t have to keep checking the time.
I discovered something surprising. There’s a lot of detail in the blown up image done in Brushes Viewer. Look at the daffodils for instance. I found I could use this large image to experiment with various cropped versions of the scene.
Here’s a version of the same tree done with Oil Canvas, another paint program for the iPhone/Touch. You start with a photo and use different sized brushes to ‘paint’ the image by drawing color from the photo.


Vegetable Soup


I made the soup. My wife made the bowl.

This is an experiment to see if I can post directly from my iPod Touch. Looks like it worked. I first save from Brushes to my Saved Photos. Then I email the photo to Posterous.

This painting took me 2 or 3 hours to complete over a couple of days. I worked by looking at a reference photo on my MacBook while painting on the Touch.