In this activity students will explore digital works by British artist David Hockney, and consider contemporary approaches to still life painting and the role of technology in art making. Informed by their observations and interpretations of the world around them, they will digitally sketch and produce their own still life artwork which uses colour to express mood and feeling.
This Great art idea involves digital painting on an iPad using the Brushes Redux application. It can be modified to use traditional materials or alternative apps if required.
David Hockney is widely considered one of the most important and influential painters of the 20th century. Born in 1937 in Bradford, England, Hockney was involved in the Pop art movement during the 1960s which celebrated subjects from everyday life and borrowed from the visual language of popular culture including advertising. Hockney became well known for his portraits of friends, and his paintings of swimming pools and lush, dense landscapes. From the late 1980s, Hockney began incorporating technology in his art. He started by using a photocopier to make homemade prints, then continued to innovate through the 1990s with fax machines and laser printers. As technology developed, Hockney began using an iPad and the Brushes app to produce still life artworks, many of which were displayed at NGV in the 2016–17 exhibition, David Hockney: Current.
A still life is a piece of art where the subject is an arrangement of inanimate objects. Traditionally, they include organic objects like fruit and flowers and common household items like glassware, ceramics and textiles which have been set on a table. Still life can both celebrate material pleasures and warn of their impermanence, conveying the fleeting nature of human life. Sometimes the objects have personal significance for the artist.
Use the following discussion prompts to explore David Hockney’s digital still life works with your class:
Examine David Hockney’s use of colour in each work.
Look at the structure of each composition in the examples of David Hockney’s work and identify:
While David Hockney has painted with traditional media for most of his career, these works were created on an iPad using his finger.
Students design and create their own colour rich digital still life paintings using the following steps:
Handy colour matching tip: Press down on a mid-tone in your painting and wait for the coloured circle to appear. This activates your colour choice and places it in your colour palette. Now, all you need to do is choose an appropriate darker tone of your activated colour.
Ask students to show their individual work to a partner or work as a whole class: