CULTURE & ARTS

Oil on canvas? No, finger on iPad.

The art of painting is now at one's fingertips - literally. The 21st century has ushered in a new wave of digital artworks reflective of our modern times, with the LCD screen slowly gaining on the easel.

Realist painter David Kassan is one such pioneer exploring new methods of artistic expression through digital media. Recently, he gained worldwide attention with his striking portrait created on his iPad through a $5 iPad application called Brushes. Using his fingertips, Kassan "painted" a portrait of a man in a mere three hours, then displayed the time-lapsed video of his creation on YouTube. The eight-minute video has already surpassed 720,000 views and counting since it was published on June 27th, bringing Kassan's latest work -- as well as the iPad -- under the spotlight.

  Kassan, who works mainly with traditional media, says the iPad helps him in his artistic quest to present the world around him honestly. "Basically I'm always learning how to see more accurately," he explained, "I'm always looking for tools that can aid in that goal...the iPad has been an amazing color sketchbook for me." The iPad Brushes app offers an alternative to the traditional artist's sketchbook, with a wide palette of colors that Kassan says are "cleaner" than many other mediums. "It's really easy to do color sketch studies in museums, which have helped me to understand more about how different artists approach color as well as compositions. Before the iPad, I would use a basic sketchbook...I couldn't really explore a full palette when studying."

Another artist, British illustrator Kyle Lambert, also made headlines with his iPad portrait of hip-hop superstar Beyonce. Lambert was drawn to the iPad because of its portability and the size of the display screen, making it easier to work with. "I first used the app on the iPhone and produced a couple of interesting pieces, but due to the size of the display the possibilities were capped. With the launch of the iPad and the demo of the Brushes iPad app I really began to see the potential in this platform. There are a couple of good painting apps around, but for me Brushes has the perfect balance between powerful features and an easy to use interface." Both artists agree the tool allows more freedom to modify and edit compared to traditional mediums.

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