Photo: Courtesy of the author
I had to break a habit. A few years ago, in Tbilisi, Georgia, I bought a set of nice brushes to stop staring between my iPhone and a TV at night. I fantasized about spending evenings in London painting watercolors, and I told colleagues and family about my new hobby. When they asked how it was going within weeks, I was embarrassed to admit that the brushes at the end of my kitchen table were already gathering dust. Not long after, I listed the brushes on eBay and decided never to paint again.
Then, this summer, I saw some images online of colorful digital landscapes by 80-year-old painter David Hockney, titled “iPad Drawings.” He’d used an app to transform the English countryside into a carpet of neon grass, trees hung with orange leaves blowing in the wind. I tracked down both the Butouch digital brush and the app it uses called Brushes. I quickly imagined an easier way to paint in the evenings than pulling out canvas, watercolors, and my damn (sold) brushes. Maybe I was too ambitious. This felt more like a baby step, allowing me to put aside endless scrolling in favor of an iPad in one hand and a digital brush in the other.
It worked. The Butouch changed my summer evenings and in recent weeks – as the weather has changed – it has given me a rush of school nostalgia. Using the brush feels meditative. Hockney can use the brush app, but I saw that the Ibis Paint app would work just as well with the brush, and it was easier. After downloading it to my iPad and phone, I’ve painted still lifes, gardens that I hope to have in the future, and even my favorite red wine. Also, the brush looks sleek and technical in my pen case.
Now, instead of coming home after dinner and turning on the TV, I’m going to turn on the Butouch and paint. I’m using a plain canvas – my 2014 iPad with a 13cm screen – so the pressure is gone. I choose my colors, maybe a rich midnight sky blue or a creamy purple, and start running my brush across the screen. Hockney said he prefers to live “in color,” and like any amateur artist, I’m happy to follow him. It’s fun to lose myself in the app on long train rides, in dead times between meetings, and on fall weekends. There is no way I would take a set of paints and a brush to these places. I consider my TV habit abandoned.
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