Heading back to Melbourne for a special girls weekend, I asked one of my friends for any suggestions on ‘must-see’ events while I was in town. The David Hockney exhibition at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) was her top pick. So, with a belly full of yum cha, and one of my art loving besties beside me, we spent what turned out to be an AMAZING and inspiring afternoon at the gallery. So inspiring that I couldn’t wait to get back to our apartment to draw.
I was excited to learn that 79 year old Hockney, famous for his paintings made with actual paint, has explored digital art. Well, ‘explored’ implies he’s dabbled it a bit … he’s prolific!
I sometimes get the impression digital illustration can be perceived as cheating somehow, as though the use of technology means it’s drawn itself, or doesn’t require much skill. I know this is not the case, and was pleased to discover that Hockney doesn’t see it that way either. He has even been quoted as saying he thinks famous artists in the past, like Van Gogh and Picasso, would have also embraced the new technology. An interesting thought!
Hockney started playing around on iPhones before changing to the more generous canvas size of iPads. His style in these artworks is so free – he isn’t trying to replicate the scene or object but manages to give just enough detail to capture its likeness and convey the mood of the moment.
I loved the exhibition design and all the different spaces that were created to showcase Hockney’s diverse work. Whole rooms with floor to ceiling works that you could completely immerse yourself in. Some of his digital works were presented on giant wall-mounted screens and actual tablets attached to the wall, displaying animations of his art process. You could see how Hockney built up each layer of colour, shape and texture to arrive at the finished artwork.
It was a fantastic exhibition that certainly lived up to the hype.
In the gallery of images above, you can see my Hockney-inspired digital illustration of the unforgettable view from the apartment the six of us shared. What a view to sleep and wake up to! It was such a treat to stay right in the heart of the city.
I can’t say that I love the result of my first attempt to sketch in this relaxed painterly style (I think we can all agree that it looks better from a distance – ha ha!) but I loved the freedom. I drew the scene with an Apple pencil on an iPad in Adobe Photoshop Sketch.
As for the last photo of the hot air balloons at sunrise? I must confess that it was actually taken by my Mum. I may have stayed up a little too late staring at the view and completely missed that beautiful moment. But wow – what a city. Melbourne still has my heart!