Digital finger painting

Is digital art the wave of the future?  Will computer technology define the art of the 21st century?  In a previous post MadSilence paid tribute to the artistic power of the mouse.  Now we pay homage to the “digital” digit.  Can the fingertip replace the brush and palette knife?

Artist Jorge Colombo believes it can.  Colombo has taken digital art beyond the mouse, wired or not, to a place where he can “draw and see the image in the same place.”  Colombo sketches covers for the New Yorker magazine on his iPhone using the Brushes application:

Brushes is a painting application designed from scratch for the iPhone and iPod touch. Featuring an advanced color picker, several realistic brushes, multiple layers, extreme zooming, and a simple yet deep interface, it is a powerful tool for creating original artwork on your mobile device.  Brushes allows you to choose any color (including transparency) using the hue/saturation color wheel. With a generous level of undo and redo you never need to worry about making a mistake or backing up too far.  Brushes records all of your actions when painting. These actions are stored in a .brushes file which you can download directly from your iPhone or iPod touch via Brushes’ built-in web server.

Amazing!  A digital application that does what the physical brush always did for the artist.  According to Colombo, “There’s something tactile about working with my fingers directly on the [canvas].  You can be just as organic and casual as you would be with a brush.”  Hmmm…  Seems a bit unusual to use the adjectives tactile and organic for a digital application.

The Brushes application offers the portability of watercolors without the clean up, and accessibility due to low-cost and ease of use, at least for the iPhone owner.  But how does a Brushes “painting” compare with a traditional painting?  Check out this video of Colombo sketching a gas station on his iPhone with Brushes.

Jorge Colombo Sketches Covers For The New Yorker On His iPhone. Image source: if it's hip, it's here.

Of course, Colombo isn’t the only artist that creates iPhone mini masterpieces.  Even British artist David Hockney has added this app to his artistic repertoire.

For more information:
iPhone Artist Jorge Colombo from
Jorge Colombo’s iPhone cityscapes (6 pictures)


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  1. Trackback: Code Sprint Yields Important Lessons for iPad News Apps | Apple On The Longtail

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