My Seattle trip is in one week. I have not wanted to start any new paintings until after the class. I made a list of art goals for myself this morning, and one of them was to decide what I want to paint when I get home from the workshop. I suppose it’s similar to a writer deciding what she wants to write about. And what I have realized is that I can choose whatever I want.

Another goal I want to work on is studying art history. It’s quite sad how sparse my knowledge is of the old masters and the history of art. So I spent some time today looking through old paintings and making a list of styles that I really like and the artists who painted them. I examined the palette choices of one painting of Juliette in a yellow dress by Hugues Merle, and I did a quick study of a few of its colors on my new iPad.

I have devoted a lot of time over the last few days to learn every aspect of the drawing software on my new iPad Pro. Last night while my wife, son, and I were watching a movie, I was playing with the tools and brushes, adding a pair of dragons to a spatter painting of a lady. I also watched a lot of tutorial videos today on the iPad and the drawing software.

It’s tempting to start a new digital painting, but I think what I am going to do is use the iPad for creating concepts for paintings. What I mean by that is I can draw sketches, ideas, and work out compositions on the iPad rather quickly and change elements very easily. I can work up color ideas and put together a rough idea for a painting. Then I can use that art work as a foundation to start an actual painting on canvas.

So I really wanted to get into the world of oil painting to get me away from the digital arts. I have spent so many years creating designs on computers that I feel desperate to use real paint brushes with real paint on real canvas. And now just before my big painting workshop trip I invest in new digital technology for doing art. I don’t think I can escape it. And I know why…

Painting is a long, involved, messy process. I squeeze daubs of paint from tubes onto a wood palette. I mix those paints. I clean my brushes in-between color changes. I spend hours on small areas of the canvas. When I am done for the day I have to clean up the mess, put everything away, wipe down the palette, clean the brushes, and then spend some time just observing what I had accomplished and make mental notes on the next approach. It is an enjoyable process. I do love it.

But on this iPad, I choose colors with a couple clicks. I jump right in to painting with a gazillion different types of “digital” paint brushes that mimic every conceivable medium out there. I played with some software last night that mimics the process of painting watercolor. And by mimic I mean I lay one color on and it looks just like watered down paint, and over time it starts to cascade across the screen. I put another color into it and the colors slowly start to react to each other, as if there was water all over the paper and the paints were gelling and floating in an undulous manner. It’s actually mesmerizing to watch.

Make a mistake? Undo. It’s so simple. It’s like having the ability to explore and play with every 2D art medium (chalk, pastel, charcoal, pencil, acrylic, watercolor, oil, gouache, etc) in one sitting. The allure is just too addictive. And being able to put elements on different layers – it’s like having cutouts that you can move around to your hearts desire until you’ve found just the right position for them. Oh this is a fun profession. I love it.

By Cody Deegan

Cody Deegan is a life-long artist versed in drawing, painting, sculpting, and design. He studied filmmaking and character animation at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles as well as figurative oil painting at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.

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