Can An iPad Make You Paint Like David Hockney? We Investigate...
Of the many delights awaiting those who have tickets for David Hockney's new blockbuster art show at the Royal Academy, perhaps the most surprising will be the The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate series.
Why? Because here you'll find 50-odd pieces that the 75-year-old composed on his iPad.
Incredibly, sat in the tranquillity of the East Yorkshire countryside, Hockney captured the woodlands and hedgerows of England using just the tips of his finger, a copy of the Brushes app (£5.49) and one of Apple's ubiquitous status symbols.
Here's an example:
Puts your high score on Angry Birds into perspective, doesn't it.
But if more artists take a cue from Hockney and start swapping their sketch books for electronic tablets, it will pose an interesting question - namely, how much of the work will they be doing themselves, and much of it will be down to Apple? In other words: does the iPad make painting any easier?
To investigate, we downloaded Brushes and set ourselves the challenge of drawing our immediate environment in the spirit of Hockney.
Unfortunately, HuffPost UK headquarters are not nestled in the idyllic folds of the Wolds but in central London. Next to a building site. On an exceptionally cold day.
And so, somewhat lazily, we decided to draw the view from our desks. A blank screen, a mouse and a telephone may not capture the spirit of rural England, but it certainly encapsulates the day-to-day lives of many Britons.
Brushes essentially works like Microsoft Paint, a program that is so old now it's only good for decorating the side of caves. The difference of course is that you're using your finger, rather than dragging a mouse about.
Where it starts to feel a bit more like a 'cheat' is when you start playing with the different brushstrokes styles. At the tap of your finger, you can start painting in raw Picasso waves or in dainty pointillism, all by doing the same thing.
The other advantages over traditional painting are obvious: colours are quick to access and any mistakes are easily erased with a 'back' button - a good job, given how many time we accidentally smudge things up the wrong way with our docile digits.
Essentially, we're disappointed to discover, the advantages to painting on the iPad are all about greater efficiency, not shortcuts to skill. It still requires the dexterous touch and vision of an artist, as our effort demonstrates:
Note the lavish explosion of colour in the pile of 'books' on the right hand side, and the careful reproduction of our Hockney flyer on the left - both homages to the master.
Note also why, as a kid, whenever anyone paid a surprise visit to our family home our mother was forced to stand red-faced and awkward in front of the fridge until they left.
So the answer, somewhat unsurprisingly, is no: the iPad can't make you paint like Hockney.
Nor was he wrong to add the line "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally" to the poster for A Bigger Picture.
They really were.
Apple had nothing to do with it.