The Artfinder Blog

My Move From Sculptor to iPad Painter

What originally inspired my return to painting?

You might question how a portrait sculptor who trained in fine art sculpture and used traditional techniques such as carving, modelling and casting, ended up using new technologies such as his iPad as a tool too carve out a new direction in the development of his artwork.

Well it's not that much of a surprise really. From a young age I grew up watching my grandfather painting in vibrant oil color 'en plein air'. It was an incredibly important time for me and I learned so much from those moments, paying attention to the way he captured what he saw around him.

I always drew and painted from a very young age. By the time I finished my A levels and went to art school, I had developed a very solid and proficient technique. Tutors found my work suited to graphic design or illustration. I wanted to follow in my grandfather's footsteps and I opposed their views and insisted that I needed the freedom that a fine artist would be able to demand.

Nevertheless, I was stuck in my comfort zone, relishing the response I achieved from admirers of my work. I was lucky to have a very wise tutor who helped me break out of this rut. She made a few suggestions and from then on I worked solely in three dimensions for many years. The constraints and practicalities of creating sculpture, forced me to work more rigorously and look harder at my subject and therefore I produced more innovative work.

'Red Traffic Light, Merido, Mexico' by Adam James Butcher

How the iPad became a key factor in helping me rebuilding my confidence using colour?

Years later, I found that I had lost the confidence of using colour. During the 17 valuable years I spent as a head of art in an innovative Art Specialist School in London, I specialised in the use of new technologies such as tablets, as creative tools for developing and making art. It was only recently, since moving to Mexico to concentrate full time on my own practise, that I returned to painting as my main medium. The iPad became the natural tool in supporting this transition.

It took me six months of practice to start mastering new painting applications such as Procreate and Inspire Pro, mainly using my fingers or a stylus to make marks. The ability to undo unwanted strokes, gave me the confidence I needed and allowed me to experiment freely like a child again. I would in a very short time feel confident recording from observation using bold colour. And once I started using color I was addicted.

'Locheria 1' by Adam James Butcher

Why the iPad allowed me to continue working even during a stressful relocation to Mexico?

Again, during our relocation to The Mexican Riviera, the iPad came into its own. I needed to invest in very little equipment to continue making art. My whole studio was effectively in my iPad and this enabled me to be so much more mobile. Almost a year later and settled in our new home, I have a studio and I have specialised in digital portrait painting.

The reason I'm so excited about my future as a professional digital portrait painter?

I am so excited by the response I have been receiving from people recently. In particular the success of my portrait commissions have meant that I am now regularly receiving jobs from new collectors. And new technology in the form of video calling is now enabling me to paint people from anywhere in the world directly from my studio in Mexico.

I'm still amazed by the endless possibilities the iPad can bring to my career as an artist.

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Hero Image: 'La Voyageuse' by Adam James Butcher

Content originally published on The Huffington Post

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