Artist’s Notebook – iPads, Computers, and Painting

Artist’s Notebook – iPads, Computers, and Painting

Using technology to help create and shape your paintings always seemed as a bit of cheating. Even the Use of reference photos seemed a bit iffy.  However, I came of age when this technology was just entering the painting world.  Today, young artists take technology as a given and seem to use it freely if they believe it advances their art.

I say all this because of my recent re-connection with David Hockney.

Hockney is one of my artistic hero’s for his use of: realism, colour, and perspective. To have the career that he has had and still be relevant is amazing.

The Pace gallery just had a show (Apr 29 to Jun 18) featuring David Hockney’s iPad drawings of the Yosemite Park in California.

These iPad creations are just amazing, given my recent purchase of an iPad Pro, I was curious on how Hockney was incorporating this technology into his art-making process.  The Pace Gallery show then lead me to the artist personal website and his videos of his large scale painting made from life.

What I really from interesting was his use of Photoshop to mock-up his large scale painting that were executed on site.  In his art-making, Hockney seemed to bounce back and forth, between on location to re-working the composition in Photoshop back in the studio.

This got me thinking about re-working one of my old, unfinished, “from life” paintings.  The Ghost Tree is a 2006 painting that marked of my tree series.

Ghost Tree, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).
Ghost Tree Painting (from life – May-June 2006), Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).

In the 10 years since this painting was first started, the grand old tree was lost to a winter storm.  So, with David Hockney as an example, I wondered if I could incorporate, from life sketching, Photoshop compositing, and re-working in oils of the old painting.

So, this past week, I took a bunch of reference photos of the site and then started a sketch of the current trees and landscape to deepen my knowledge and awareness of the landscape.

Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont). Photo taken on June 17th, 2016.
Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont). Photo taken on June 17th, 2016.


Sketch of Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).  Photo taken on June 17th, 2016
Sketch of Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont). Photo taken on June 17th, 2016

Over the next few weeks, I will experiment with this new art-making process to see how much value I can gain from the experience.

I will keep you posted on the results.




Published by Chris Erskine

Inspired by architecture and landscapes, my art explores our relationship to place, memory and identity. As a mid career artist, my art practice includes: painting, murals, short films, and sound art.

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