Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Art Teachers take note: New Yorker adds Brushes App Illustrations

The New Yorker is leaping into the future with considerable cosmopolitan aplomb.
Jorge Colombo drew this week’s cover using Brushes, an application for the iPhone, while standing for an hour outside Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Times Square.

Time to break out those iPhones in art class? For the doubters among you, consider that this isn't just some novelty act:
Colombo’s phone drawing is very much in the tradition of a certain kind of New Yorker cover, and he doesn’t see the fact that it’s a virtual finger painting as such a big deal. “Imagine twenty years ago, writing about these people who are sending these letters on their computer.” But watching the video playback has made him aware that how he draws a picture can tell a story, and he’s hoping to build suspense as he builds up layers of color and shape. And so are we: look for a new drawing by Colombo each week on newyorker.com

Fine Arts departments have all of the advantages of technology at their disposal. Are they willing to make the leap?

Certainly there is great value in learning to draw by hand. My wife is an architect and a regular complaint I hear from her is that folks coming out of architecture school by-and-large can't draw and therefore they often have trouble communicating 3 dimensions by hand or in the ordinary situations an architect will often find herself in.

But, this new app isn't AutoCad. It doesn't render 'for' the artist. Rather, this looks like the best natural extension of a sketchbook into the digital realm that I've seen. You still have to draw. The difference is that now you are drawing onto a medium that can be shot around the world, remixed, and shared in real-time.

My traditionalist friends and colleagues in arts education, please check out the video that accompanies the piece before you dismiss this one out of hand. And imagine the advantages of being able -- without destroying the original work -- to break down and analyze a student's drawing stroke by stroke and make alterations -- after they've completed it.


  1. Love the education spin you put on this iPhone application.

  2. Oh, also...came across this...more examples:

  3. I introduced an art teacher of my acquaintance to this tool the other day, and he was singularly impressed. Ecstatic, even.


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