Brian Middleton is teaching what he practises.
On April 18, the digital artist will lead a workshop on how to use an iPad to paint at The Old School House Arts Centre.
“It’s painting by app,” he explained. “It’s revolutionized how much I can do.”
Middleton, who has been painting for 40 years, worked in a traditional studio until a couple years ago when his friend introduced him to the possibilities of an iPad.
Today, the artist’s paintbrushes are still on sabbatical.
He said he decided to use the iPad as an artistic tool for a number of reasons, including that it’s portable, he can enlarge the screen “almost infinitesimally” and it has a light source, meaning he can work anywhere. The fact there are no brushes, paints or canvases to store or maintain and there are no fumes was an added bonus.
One of the big reasons the artist has embraced the technology is the fact that he feels digital painting makes art more accessible.
“It encourages play and fun,” he said. “Perhaps it’s less scary to put your finger on a live screen than pick up a paint brush.”
Middleton also said that while fine motor skills are still needed to do digital art, working on an iPad is physically less demanding than painting on a large canvas.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few drawbacks, however. Namely, computer malfunctions present the biggest issue. As such, Middleton suggests iPad painters have a way to back up their work.
In the upcoming workshop, students will create a work from scratch as Middleton gives a practical step-by-step lesson on how to use the technology.
“I teach them to use the tools so they can express themselves,” he explained.
Students can bring a stylus if they wish, though Middleton personally doesn’t use one. “I prefer using my hand,” he said. “It feels more like a real tool.”
This will be the second time Middleton has taught iPad Digital Painting at TOSH. The first class was held last November, the same month some of his iPad paintings were published in International Contemporary Artists Volume 7 out of New York.
“It was great,” he said of his first set of students. “They were very enthusiastic.”
Middleton also mentioned that many of the people in that class were interesting in learning the technology so they could later apply it to other art forms.
That being said, the workshops are not reserved for those with plenty of previous art experience.
“I’d like to encourage people of all skill levels to come,” said Middleton.
The upcoming digital painting class will take place on two consecutive Saturdays, April 18 and 25, from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. The cost is $100 for TOSH members and $110 for non-members. To register, contact TOSH at 250-752-6133 or in person during regular gallery hours.
There are plenty of other classes this April at TOSH. They include those on mixed media with Lynn Orriss, monoprinting with Diane McCarten, acrylic painting with Cindy Mawle or Eunmi Conacher, drawing fundamentals with Clive Powsey, chalk pastel with Sandra Lamb and mixing paint colours with Jill Paris Rody.