This June, my husband and I set off to visit some wonderful old and new places during our annual visit to our extended family in Turkey. And I looked forward to sketching all along the way, having discovered the pleasures and ease of working on the iPad a few years ago. As it turned out, I encountered a significant app problem for the first time, but I returned home still devoted to this exciting artistic medium.
Until recently, I used Paper 53 exclusively because it’s intuitive and simple to use and can create nice pencil and watercolor-like effects. But recently, looking for more variation in pencil line quality, I switched to Tayasui Sketches. This application is still easy to use. It shares some capabilities with more complex programs, especially the use of different layers (so a background wash, for instance, can be erased or reworked without disturbing other lines and color) and the ease in adjusting width and density for most of the tools. The “watercolor” washes and infinite color palette are just as nice as Paper’s, plus Sketches has a crayon-like tool that I loved right away.
|Flock on plains|
|Balloons in Goreme|
Both the visuals and the complicated history of Cappadocia were so much more varied and interesting than we’d anticipated, and I eagerly set to sketching—the scenery, buildings, international tourists, camels—but to my great dismay, my app crashed on the second afternoon, something that had never happened to me before, and I lost three or four promising drawings. I had made color notes but hadn’t added all the color and so hadn’t saved the drawings to my desktop “Photos” file. If I’d been near computers and equipment, I might have found a way to save that work, but we were only mid-trip and of course I wanted to continue sketching. So I just gnashed my teeth a bit and resolved to save, much more frequently, all future drawings in progress so that after a possible crash they can be re-imported to a Sketches layer and thus finished. My app has only crashed once since then, and that advice to myself allowed me to save the picture I was working on. I’ve also learned to plan my moves better and to shift a bit slower between tools, which I think has probably prevented more incidents.
Although I usually prefer a pencil or watercolor-like feel to my drawings, when I awoke to this scene outside our Cirali window, I wanted to use bold colors and shapes to express the brilliance and seeming flatness of the flowers overlapping the chickens and lemon trees. Naturally, the wide variety of tools in an iPad app like Sketches can easily accommodate this kind of change in style.
|Family walking past ruins to beach|
|Beach with ruins|
I love the iPad for onsite sketching, given that I have been an amateur artist who previously only rarely found the time or nerve for it and who would still find it overly cumbersome, time consuming, and disruptive to work out in the world with traditional art materials. The iPad makes some things a lot easier, but I would not like to leave the impression that an app is so magical that artistic ability and vision become irrelevant. In addition to the possibility of an app crash, there are some real difficulties involved in iPad creation as compared to traditional methods, for example its less accurate drawing capability, unusually smooth, specular, small, and sometimes annoyingly smudgy surface, and one’s inability to work in full sun or even the lightest of drizzles. As with any medium, if you want to succeed, you must accommodate or overcome its limitations and exploit its strengths. What I know is that as long as I’m still learning, enjoying, and feeling gratified by the results, I’ll remain an enthusiastic advocate!
Leslie Akchurin is a New Englander who currently resides in Lubbock, Texas, where she instructs in a university writing center. More of her iPad work can be seen here.
*Readers – Do you sketch using Digital media? What app do you use and why?