Inspired by Hockney

Performing live iPad painting at the opening (October 25th, 2013) of the historic and epic “David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition”, the largest exhibition ever at the de Young Museum, and the biggest exhibition of Hockney’s art in the United States since 2005. (Photo: Stephen Somerstein)

The two iPad drawings shown above were inspired David Hockney’s work iPad drawings in the de Young show. Both these drawings were both created in the exhibition using the Sketch Club app with the Adonit Jot Touch stylus. The first one, which I spent about two hours on, was based on the replay video video showing Hockney’s process of building up a painting from start to finish. Every time I looked up I saw a different stage of the painting which made an interesting subject changing with time. Thank you Robert for kindly taking the video of me painting. By contrast the second one was created in the last ten minutes of the show, sitting in front of one of Hockney’s large scale iPad prints. The guards almost had to push me out of the gallery! The inspirations for both of these were from paintings that were part of Hockney’s ensemble of works entitled “The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (Twenty Eleven) Version 3, 2011-2013”.

It was visiting the “Bigger Picture” David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, January 2012, and experiencing the impact of his large iPad paintings, as well as video replays of his iPad paintings, on display in such a traditional environment that kick-started my exploration in earnest of using the iPad as a serious fine art tool, after twenty years of digital painting on the iPad’s big brother, the Macintosh computer. Besides the opening of the Hockney show at the de Young Museum, I’ve subsequently performed live iPad painting at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s America Now! Innovation in Art event; at the flagship Apple Stores in Regent Street, London, and in San Francisco; at the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University; at the SIGGRAPH Studio in Anaheim; at SEMA, the worlds largest custom car trade show in Las Vegas; as well as at other private and public events. You can see some of my iPad artwork at

I taught two show related iPad art workshops, “Paint on the Go! Inspired by Hockney”. Click here to learn about my forthcoming iPad art workshops.

The workshops drew upon ideas, themes and inspiration from the show, and included a guided tour of the Hockney show in which I highlighted the lessons we can learn from Hockney in the context of drawing and painting on your iPad. We then applied these artistic and thematic lessons to painting in the exhibition itself, much to the fascination of onlookers, as you can see from the photo below show student Henk Dawson painting in the show:


About Hockney and the “Bigger Exhibition”

David Hockney is one of the greatest and most well-known living British artists. To see examples of his work and learn more about him see, the Artsy Hockney page and his Wikipedia entry. His work has spanned a wide range of media, subjects, styles, points of view and size. Over the years he has worked with oils and acrylics on canvas, pencil, charcoal and watercolor on paper, color xerography, photographic collage (“joiners”), polaroids, multiple camera videos, and digital painting on his computer (Quantel Paintbox, TimeArts Oasis and Adobe Photoshop with Wacom tablet), iPhone and iPad (Brushes app), including synchronized digital video replays of his iPad drawings. His subjects have ranged from the iconic Los Angeles swimming pools to portraits and figures of himself, his family and friends, as well as interiors, still life studies and landscapes. The paintings you see at the top of this page are, on the left, an iPad self-portrait of Hockney and his iPad, and on the right, a plein air iPad painting of woods in Yorkshire. His style has varied from natural color high realism to non-natural color (with a tip of the hat to Fauves like Henri Matisse). His exploration of depicting the moving and ever-changing three dimensional world in static two dimensional artworks (with the exception of his video installations) has included juxtaposing and arranging multiple images into single artworks, making series of works of the same subject over time and seasons (in the spirit of Claude Monet), and taking themes and subjects and abstracting from them in series of works (such as his series based on Claude Lorrain’s “The Sermon on the Mount” with cubist inspiration from Pablo Picasso). He has pushed the boundaries of the size of his paintings, both traditional and digital, working on larger and larger artworks, many divided up into multiple canvases on a grid system. The “Bigger Exhibition” at the de Young Museum was a historic review of the work he created over the last decade, since the completion of his book “Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters”. It included huge prints of his iPad drawings and fascinating replays on screens showing his process and actual brush strokes. His example encouraged everyone to be free, take risks, look intently, draw from life and seek to express multiple vantage points in our work.

To learn more about Hockney and the exhibition please see these links:

Love Life: David Hockney’s Timescapes – talk by Lawrence Weschler at the de Young on October 26, 2013 – de Young Museum YouTube channel. Excellent overview talk. (video)

David Hockney 2009, A Bigger Picture – BBC presentation of Bruno Wollheim’s documentary on Hockney’s preparation for the Bigger Picture show at the Royal Academy, London. Great insights into Hockney’s working methods. Shows him in action. (video)

David Hockney – Painting The Tunnel – excerpt from the bonus material that came with Wollheim’s documentary, re-edited by Anna Rusbatch. Shows the progress and process of Hockney painting a single plein air painting. (video)

de Young Museum Press Release

Art review, Hockney at the de Young: changed views – San Francisco Chronicle

How David Hockney Became the World’s Foremost iPad Painter – Wired magazine

iPad art gains recognition in new Hockney exhibit – AP exhibition review

David Hockney — bigger, bolder, brighter, digitized – San Jose Mercury News

Artist David Hockney’s iPad and iPhone artwork goes on display at the de Young Museum – San Jose Mercury News

iPad art gains recognition in new Hockney exhibit – York Daily Record

He’s Back, in a Defiant Blaze of Color – New York Times

iPad art gains recognition in new Hockney exhibit – Yahoo News

Pop Art Legend’s iPad Ingenuity – Associated Press (video)

Finding Hockney Art Locations in the Yorkshire Wolds

David Hockney Chronology

Jeremy Sutton

Originally from London, I studied drawing, sculpture and print-making at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, Oxford University (while earning a degree in Physics), and subsequently studied at the Vrije Academie in The Hague, The Netherlands. I\'ve been using digital paint since 1991, including every version of Painter. I love teaching and have taught workshops and given presentations all over the world for the last twenty years. I create commissioned fine art paintings and perform live action painting and digital portraiture. I founded PaintboxTV in February 2009. Thank you for being part of this creative community!

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