Hold on, Gang, we're going for a ride. I've been playing with using the iPad for sketching, tentatively feeling my way along, sketching in the Jardin, here in San Miguel, in front of the tv, while still in Taos, and whenever and wherever the occasion allowed. I've long been impressed by paintings done on the iPhone and the iPad, and have been threatening to learn to do “finger” painting, myself, on the iPad.

Having watched others on YouTube and Vimeo, and various blogs and web sites, I can see how it can be and is done. So, tonight, I got this crazy idea that I would do tonight's painting on the iPad as a surprise for you. As it turns out, I am the one most surprised.

By the time I've finished this post, I will have used up my allotted time, and don't even have a satisfactory under-drawing completed. Sketching on the device has been a pleasure. Sketching, that is. Drawing, on the other hand, has proven considerably more daunting, at least for now, than with pen on paper.

I don't know, at this point, how this will develop. But I thought you might like to follow along. The project might continue in digital right through to the end, it may end up being a watercolor on paper or even an oil painting. We shall see. Or, it might bounce back and forth from one medium to another.

Here is what I have for you tonight:

First I photographed them as I passed on the stairs, here in Casa Laura, using my iPhone 4s. Then I transferred the image to my iPad via wifi, with the Photo Transfer App. I opened the image in my favorite photo app, PhotoForge2, which I believe is no longer available, having been purchased and pulled from the app store by Yahoo. There are several other apps that will do the same things, this just happens to be the one I am most comfortable using.

In PhotoForge2, I used the clarify filter to lighten the darks, and make the whole thing a bit more readable. I'm not out to make great photography, just good research on which to base a painting




I loaded the image into an app called SketchbookX, cut it in two, and rearranged the figures for a composition that I liked better, and traced it, loosely on a new layer.

Traced it? Isn't that cheating?

Not if cheating means easier. I could get a much better drawing in much less time, by using pen on paper. For now, at least.


I created a new layer, and re-traced the image more carefully. The result is less alive, but at least I know where everything goes. And i'm beginning to realize this isn't going to be easy, teaching this olde dog a new trick.

I think I'd better sleep on this and decide my next move.

Meanwhile I would greatly appreciate your opinion on how to proceed. Would you like to see the project straight through to the end, or would you prefer that I intersperse these stages of development intermittantly into the familiar daily flow of paintings?

Let me know by clicking on the little word bubble at the upper right, and entering your comment.

PS: we got our couple together sooner than i had expected. They do look happy, ¿Que no?


Bidding will resume as soon as we get this little project worked out.


15 thoughts on “CALAKAS DANCING Part One / Daily Painting #1240

  1. Cool John! I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing so would love to follow this along. Is sketchbook X the app you are using for this? It looks great by the way….so far so good!

    1. Hi Peggy,
      Yes, I used Scetchbook Express on the first day, but switched to the Pro version on the second day, because I was losing layers and wanted more to work with. That only added one more, though, from three all the way up to four! Now I’ve read the reviews. Xcellent for Express not so for Pro! Lots of crashes reported. So I’m still shopping for the best app. Stay tuned.

  2. John this is fantastic. Trust you to want to explore these new methods (I myself….? No desire, but I imagine if I spent more than 10 min. with you, you’d change my mind). I think a blow-by-blow of how you do this would still be really interesting…speaking for myself. Love these chalakas…what a perfect name. In itself it sounds like bones clacking together.

    1. Hi Gena,
      If I know you, and I do, 10 minutes on the iPad and you would be teaching me! Try it, you’ll like it.
      Actually, I’ve been wondering what I’ve gotten myself into, here. I do love it, though, and never want to stop learning.
      You, by the way, have been doing some great work on your daily blog. Loved the Antelope trio, especially!

  3. The drawings alone are great. Compositon, proportion-wise, I think their legs need to be emphasized, since they ARE dancing. Give’m some longer legs and more movement of limbs. Good stuff.

    1. Ahh, Cheryl,
      You caught me! I didn’t do what I always tell my students to do. Argue with the photograph. Just like Siri, G P S, maps, Wikipedia, and the politician offering to help you, photography requires that you think for yourself.
      Because I shot them from above they are foreshortened and distorted, giving them large heads snd short legs. See part two for start of corrections and more.

  4. Couldn’t find the little word bubble so I am replying. Went to the amazing Hockney show at the DeYoung in December. Several rooms devoted to iPhone and iPad drawings and “paintings”. One room with the iPads mounted on the wall. Another with huge prints . He uses the App Brushes.

    As a new medium I think it is interesting but I found it to be a new medium resulting in new work in the sense that you can get certain things but not others. Like you can do something’s with watercolor which are different than with oils or acrylics. I am certain that the most precise drawings employed the use of a stylus over finger.

    So since you asked I would say while interesting as a process are you going to get anything that interesting/new/different/better than you can on your own? Without all the technical steps?

    Ox M

    M. A. Howden Nomadic Gal on the Lam & On the Go

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Hmmm, is it truly digital if I don’t use my digit? So far, I’ve felt more detached when trying to use a stylus than even when using a mouse. But my mind is still open on the subject.
      I’m hoping that I will eventually be able to recapture my love of working in pastels, but without the mess, respiratory complications, and problems with care and handling of the finished work.
      We shall see what develops in this new, exciting and challenging medium.

  5. Buenos Dias, Señor Juan,

    I’d like to see the painting develop continuously over the next few days – the process is very interesting.

    I’m certainly enjoying the travelogue from San Miguel de Allende. Eric and I were there maybe fifteen years ago. We really liked it and always wanted to go back. Your extended stay is giving me itchy feet for a return visit!

    “Hi” to Thea.

    Jay Olson

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Hi Jay,
      I hope I can keep it interesting. And I hope everyone will let me know if I don’t!
      San Miguel seems not to have changed appreciably since our last visit 13 years ago, following our great Cuernavaca experience. More people, as everywhere.
      How was your time in Florida?
      Thea says “Hi”

  6. I agree. Seeing your wonderful paintings and now this new way, is and will be distinguished, eminent, and prestigious. Keep those brushes moving. Can’t wait to see the new ones.

      1. Remember The Real Truth. Real Love given to us by Our Lord and His Son Christ helps us all and spreading HIS Love helps us all. Seeing real truth in your pictures makes me love them and you. God Bless You. Doris

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