Painting by App, Part 1

Ever since seeing David Hockney’s iPad art at the Louisiana Museum outside Copenhagen, I’d been wanting to try it myself.

Now that I have an iPad, I read this article about painting/ drawing apps and jumped right in. The good thing is many of the apps are free or have a free trial version, so it’s a low-risk leap.

Here’s my first stab at it:

Brushes app image

Yes, my feet are gorgeous! I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me. I drew this with my fingers using Brushes (the same app David Hockney uses). Brushes is wonderfully simple and great for quick impressions.The picture is nothing special, but on the iPad itself, my kids love being able to watch the video of how it came together. I couldn’t get that feature to transfer here, but if you know how to do it, give me a shout.

Here’s a funny article about trying to become David Hockney via Brushes. You can guess how that turned out.

Below are a couple of sketches made using the free trial version of Sketchbook Pro. These are also done with my fingers, both in Florida where the hubs and I had a nice relaxing week to ourselves in early December.

Cloud Painting

Florida Canal Painting

Sketchbook Pro lets you to easily change brush size and tool choice (i.e. brush, airbrush, pencil). And with both programs, it’s easy to get just the color you want with the stroke of a finger. Sketchbook Pro lets you make colors more or less transparent, which makes for some cool effects. It takes a bit of getting used to, though, that the paint is so consistent. In other words, your “paint” doesn’t really blend with other colors, and it never runs out.

The “paint” is most like watercolor, though unlike watercolor, you can undo your strokes as often as you like. You could easily get carried away with self-correction. I tried not to but used “undo” as an excuse to take risks I wouldn’t have taken with real watercolors. I think that’s one of the greatest strengths of all of the art apps I’ve tried—the ability to try new things with no risk, and to make a picture quickly without getting out and putting away all of your materials.

Using your finger to draw is a little clunky. These three were all done before I got my Sensu Brush/ Stylus, and now that I have it, I’ll probably skip finger drawing.

I enjoyed both of these apps, but I found myself wanting more features and more detail. I decided it was time to try the apps with pricetags. More about app art to come.

If you make art on your mobile device, what do you do with the images? David Hockney prefers to let his iPad work live only in the digital world, but I think it could be reproduced a number of ways. What do you think? Have you tried producing a “real” version of your digital images? I’d love to hear how it’s gone.

A Peek into our Hall Corner

I thought you might like to see a little corner of our home. We live in a German altbau(old building) apartment. Our building dates from around 1900.

This little corner is where our front hall meets our very long, narrow, bowling-alley-like main hall. I can’t remember if it was intentional, but the collection of images is a little homage to my home state of South Carolina. It’s the focal point of our entryway.

The top photograph, entitled Foggy is by South Carolina photographer Robin Smith (find him here) and the bottom photograph, of the Hutchinson House on Edisto Island, is by Susan Roberts (find her here).

The painting is by me, a gift to my husband before we were married. I painted it in Boston, and I remember someone asking me, is there really such a thing as Spanish moss?

It made me laugh, considering that I’d had Spanish moss in my backyard my whole life. Yes, people, it’s real. Not made up for the movies. It’s nice to be able to have a little reminder of it here with me in Germany. We’ll be seeing Spanish moss again soon!

The desk and rug belonged to my husband’s grandparents.

We’re sorting our things, getting things in order, and I’m trying as best I can to stay on my writing schedule until the last minute. This novel has got to happen.

Bologna Book Fair: Illustration Roundup

Want to see what children’s book illustrators are doing around the world?

As I mentioned in my last post, illustration is the main course of the Bologna fair’s visual feast. Here’s where you see, more than ever, that a great cover is a book’s best friend. The photo above is from the posting wall at the Fair, where illustrators are invited to leave their cards in the hopes that they’ll be noticed.

Here is one of my favorites, from illustrator Daisy Hirst:

I love the fun, playful quality of her work.

In addition to the posting wall and the many booths of books, there’s a yearly exhibition of top talent and a spotlight on a “guest of honor” country—this year, Portugal. I was so inspired by the showcase winners and by so many other illustrators whose work was on display. Check out the exhibition artists here.

Some links to blogs by/ articles about my favorites from the exhibition:

Alejandra Barba of Mexico

Jo Suna of Korea

Fereshteh Najafe of Iran

Anja Reiger of Germany (Berlin)

Katrin Stangl of Germany

Gerry Turley of England

Just as when I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair, I was struck by how many different styles of artwork there are across world markets. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in Spain, Korea, Holland, Iran, you name it.

I’d love to see some American publishers translate some of these books and/ or work with some of these illustrators. Most foreign book rights sales go the other way (English into other languages) but we’re really missing out on some fabulous stuff.

American publisher Front Street, back in the day, brought Dutch and French titles to the US market (A Day, A Dog, The Yellow Balloon, Little Bird’s ABC —all of which I love). But since Front Street’s passing, somebody needs to take up the torch. Is there a publisher out there doing this that I just don’t know about?

It was also interesting to talk to some European illustrators about where their work fits in best. One I spoke to had been told her work would sell best in Eastern Europe. Another had been told his would do better in Latin America or Asia. I’d love to see a map of what kind of illustration fits where.

Would you like to see more international books brought to the US market? There’s some dispute that Americans just don’t buy these books, but can our taste really be that monolithic? What do you think?

Colors of Copenhagen

Everyone had told me Copenhagen was beautiful, but it still surprised me. What a classy city. The Danes are a people dedicated to beautiful design.

We were lucky enough to have gorgeous weather, and the blue sky just heightened all the colors.

I highly recommend taking a canal tour. It’s a great way to hit all the highlights and besides is just fun, too. The kids enjoyed it but got a little restlesss toward the end of the hour.

This beauty is hanging out under a bridge or overpass-type thing:

No trip to Copenhagen would be complete without a stop at Tivoli Gardens, the 19th century amusement park right in the center of downtown Copenhagen.

An inspired Tivoli treat: churros with custardy softserve. Mmmmm….

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out my other posts about Denmark here and here.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Just north of Copenhagen, overlooking the Baltic sea, lies the stunning Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

With its strong collection, amazing view, and inviting layout, the Louisiana instantly made my top three list of favorite museums ever. The only ones I’ve visited that even compare in awesomeness are the Apartheid Museum in Capetown and the Metropolitan in New York. I felt a little like pulling a Claudia Kincaid (in From the Mixed Up Files)—-maybe I’ll go back and move into one of the exhibits. There was this super-cool fort/treehouse type installation. I think that would work.

It’s called  My Home My House My Stilt House by artist Arne Quinze.

Here’s the view from the museum:

I’d been told that in general, Danish museums are very family-friendly. The Louisiana definitely is, with lots of space to run around, outdoor exhibits, and an entire wing devoted to children, where they can make their own stuff. Like this:

My favorite exhibit was a collection of iPads and iPhones displaying David Hockney’s recent digital work. It’s called Me Draw on iPad, and it really blew my mind.

I admire anyone who’s always worked with traditional materials but is willing to try something new. It had never occured to me to try to sketch on my iPhone. He started by sketching sunrises on his phone because he felt the phone’s luminosity made it the perfect medium for the subject matter.

He’s been sketching daily on iThings for a few years now and shares his drawings with friends.

I’m drawn to sketches because I love to see the artist’s hand, which you’d think might feel missing from digital work. Not here. In fact, the most mesmerizing thing about the artwork, besides the fact that it glows, is that you can watch it in progress over and over: the drawings come together in motion as they were drawn, color by color, line by line.

The exhibit also includes a video of Hockney sitting in the museum cafe, drawing the view on his iPad. I could’ve watched it for hours. He says he doesn’t know how to sell any of the pieces and feels they belong on the screen, not on paper, but I would totally have bought prints or even a DVD.

In the exhibit literature, there’s a scan code where you can download one of the drawings onto your smartphone. Check out some of Hockney’s drawings here.

More on Copenhagen soon.

Lady Madonna, Baby at Your Breast

 

Madonna del’latte, Ambrogio Lorenzetti c. 1330
 

I really enjoyed the museums in Siena in part because they were small enough to manage with children, and not so packed. But the best part was their troves of early Renaissance art. I like the early stuff because it’s not so all-fired perfect like the late Renaissance art. During the early period, artists had figured out a few things about perspective, but they hadn’t yet cracked the whole code. 

The art from the early period also seems brighter and more colorful than the later Renaissance. I find myself relating to it because it’s more like what I’d want to create myself. Perfection in artwork doesn’t really interest me that much, probably because I’m living after the invention of photography. So the beautiful but imperfect early Renaissance paintings (as well as pre-Renaissance works) have an almost modern feel to me.

Disclaimer: this isn’t an all that scholarly perspective, so bear that in mind.

St. Bernardino Preaching, by Sano di Pietro (above)—This scene takes place in the same Piazza del Campo from my previous post. I couldn’t find a better image of it, but in real life the colors are much brighter. The building behind St. Bernardino is the color of papaya flesh. 

Datei:Simone Martini 018.jpg

(detail from The Siege of the Castle of Montemassi, by Simone Martini)

The image above is just a tiny bit of a beautiful and famous painting. You can see the artist has made an attempt to show the dimensionality of the castle, but it’s still a bit flat, with an almost cubist feeling. I love it.

Our favorite pieces in the museum were the nursing Madonnas. I had never seen anything like them and was so moved by their tenderness. Whoever thought of Mary breastfeeding Jesus? Evidently plenty of artists have, but I hadn’t. I found the images so intimate, so human. So different from some other Madonnas where she’s looking away from baby Jesus, holding him like she’s not sure whose kid this is but would someone please take him?

Evidently there are a lot of these lactating Madonnas from 14th century Tuscany. According to Wikipedia,  they were “something of a visual revolution for the theology of the time, compared to the Queen of Heaven depictions.”

Madonna del latte, Paolo di Giovanni Fei

“During the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, a decree against nudity was issued, and the use of the Madonna Lactans iconography began to fade away.”

Sigh. At least they didn’t burn them.

The coolest thing about seeing these paintings was how much my small children responded to them. I think the idea of baby Jesus being so like themselves, so like other babies they know, excited them.

The images above came from wikipedia and wikimedia. They are in the public domain, and the paintings themselves all reside in Siena.

p.s. My post about Pisa was featured on Freshly Pressed (the wordpress front page roundup) this week, so this little blog got a lot of new traffic. Welcome, new subscribers!

Max and Moritz: Great Uncles of the Comic Strip

File:Max und Moritz.JPG

You know the Brothers Grimm, but maybe you haven’t heard of some other famous German brothers: Max and Moritz. They’re some of the most beloved characters in all of German literature.

Published in 1865, Max and Moritz is the story of two naughty brothers whose adventures range from mischievous to vicious. Their darkly comical story is told in a series of seven pranks, and in the end….well, let’s just say they don’t get away with their crimes. It’s not exactly a Disney fairy tale.

The subversive  humor of the book and the boys’ flippancy toward adults represented a departure in the children’s literature of the time, which was strictly moralistic.

The book’s action-filled sequential line drawings are paired with relatively little text. It’s widely believed that Max and Moritz was the direct inspiration for the Katzenjammer Kids, the “oldest American comic strip still in syndication and the longest-running ever.” (from Wikipedia)

The other day I made a date with myself to go to the Wilhelm Busch Museum here in Hannover. The creator of Max and Moritz, illustrator and poet Wilhelm Busch, lived in and around Hannover for several years of his life. The museum is located on the edge of the royal Herrenhauser Gartens. It’s my favorite kind of museum: small, intimate, a beautiful space with really strong exhibits. It houses some of the original Max and Moritz sketches—I love seeing the rough beginnings of things.

Here’s the museum below:

The museum also hosts temporary exhibits of illustration and caricature, and I was lucky enough to catch the show of Lisbeth Zwerger, famed Austrian illustrator. I’ve been a fan of her whimsical fairy tale illustrations for a long time, so it was really interesting to see them in person. Along with German and English editions of Max and Moritz, I couldn’t resist getting Zwerger’s Noah’s Ark, also in the original German—I guess it’ll be good for my language skills.

Also on display, and equally interesting, was a large retrospective show of  influential British carticature artist Ronald Searle. I snapped a quick pic of this machine in the corner of the gallery:

What do you think it is? I’m guessing it’s a hygrometer to make sure the air doesn’t get too damp and damage the artwork, but I don’t know.

I can’t wait to get back to the museum for the next exhibits.

The Max and Moritz image above, which is in the public domain, was found at wikipedia. Information in this post comes from the English and German wikipedia entries for Wilhelm Busch.

Oval Patchwork Bedcover

Here’s a sneak peak at another patchwork project I’ve been pecking away at for a long time. I’m feeling the need to finish these bedcovers lately, so hopefully I’ll have more to show you soon.

This patchwork pattern is a modified version of an Amy Butler design (Patchwork Duvet Cover) from her book, In Stitches. It started out as thrifted clothes I picked up on one trip to the Goodwill in Charlotte. Here’s an early pic:

I decided this print (below), though I liked it, had too much white to work in the design, so I used fabric paint to darken the white to a kind of purplish brown color. You can see the result in the first photo. It’s a watercolor-type paint, so it doesn’t change the “hand” (the feel) of the fabric much.

The oval appliques will go on a light green background when I finish the last few. I tried laying them out on white (top photo) but I didn’t think it worked so well. What do you think?

Update: Patchwork in Progress

Here are some strips from the duvet cover I’m making. I seem to have lost the triangle patches I had in my original design. I’ve made a few but I’m thinking I need to make more now to get the design closer to my original idea.

I learned how to do this cool but simple trick to make triangle patches. Check it out here. I love all the little piecing tricks out there.

For more info about the background of this project, including the hand-dyed fabric, see this post.