Digital Experiments with David Hockney


“I haven’t stopped painting or drawing – I’ve just added another medium.”
David Hockney

Last weekend, I saw David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, which focuses on Hockney’s work over the past decade.

The variety of art, which includes landscapes, portraits, video collages, and sketches, is impressive.  Even at the age of 76, Hockney continues to experiment with all sorts of media, and one of the most interesting parts of the exhibition was his collection of digital drawings and paintings that he did on his iPhone and iPad.  He used an app called Brushes, which includes a cool recording and playback feature.  The de Young displayed a selection of Hockney’s digital works on a series of flat screens, so you could see exactly how Hockney created his art, stroke by stroke.


I was so taken by this display that when I got home, I downloaded the Brushes 3 app on my iPhone so I could try it out.  Included in this post are three of my digital paintings.  I completed the flower on my iPhone in about 20 minutes between the Orinda and West Oakland BART stations.  With the apple, I took more time so I could learn more about the app’s functionality.  Finally, I used my iPad Mini and a Bamboo stylus, to paint the above portrait of David Hockney.


If you have a chance, I recommend you visit A Bigger Exhibition.  The art is fantastic, but it’s also a reminder to keep experimenting.

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”
– David Hockney

P.S. Although the new version of Brushes includes the playback feature, you can’t export the video, as you could on older versions.  Apparently, the developers are working on an upgrade, but unfortunately, I couldn’t include the videos in this post for any of you who actually care about seeing the steps I took to create these paintings.

4 responses to “Digital Experiments with David Hockney

  1. The work of Hockney is amazing. And like you said. One of the amazing things is that he didn’t get stuck with just one technique, he always keep experimenting.

  2. Pingback: David Hockney paints on iPad | Knowledge Strategies & Bioscience

  3. Your drawings are beautiful! Perhaps exquisite is a better word.
    I too saw the Hockney exhibit and downloaded Brushes 3. However, unlike you, I didn’t find any directions as to how to use the app. How did you discover to do anything other than decorate the apple? Embarrassed at my ignorance and un-techyness, but there it is.

    • Hi Shirla,
      I don’t believe there are instructions, so I just played around with the different brush styles, sizes, and colors until I figured out how to make broad strokes and fine lines. For the finer lines, you can zoom into the image the same way you would on a photo (using your finger and thumb to expand). Best, Doug

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