Do you remember the last time you intentionally went out without your mobile phone? Do you ever imagine going about your day without ever checking your smartphone or tablet to see if anything new is up (yes, don’t we all enjoy checking for the imaginary messages)? Let’s face it. We are all becoming more and more dependent on digital devices. Some may call it addiction. Even mothers hand their smartphones or tablets to their children to keep them entertained. Children these days learn how to maneuver touch screen on devices before learning how to speak properly. It is almost as if smartphone has become extension of our arm.
While some find themselves wondering how on earth good three hours of their precious day had passed totally wasted following other people’s lives on social media, some take advantage of the technology and use it to live more efficient life. They make their digital devices serve them, not the other way around. Japanese finger painting artist Seikou Yamaoka is one of the latter. He keeps surprising us with his incredible portraits he’s finger painted on iPhone and iPad.
It all started when he started to practice drawing on iPod touch on a train while commuting to work. He was able to do it any time he’d felt life it no matter where he was. He did not have to wait for the color to dry before layering another, because it was digital canvas. It was also easy to put aside at any point and to pick up where he’d left. He soon was drawn to the convenience and the possibilities.
He became an internet sensation and grew fans after creating digital version of ‘Girl with a Perl Earring’ by Johannes Vermeer and posting it on YouTube. He’d generously shown the viewers transparent process of how he paints his artwork. People around the world were surprised how modern technology is able to copy the masterpiece almost identically with fair amount of emotional depth to it. Other people started doing something similar, too.
Not that we can copy the step by step method and create such an impressive art ourselves though. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘digital’ and mistake it for something easy as can be done with just some finger strokes on the screen, … or several hundreds of them even. What is so magical about his creation is that it almost looks like it’s been worked on traditional canvas with oil paint and brushes or water color. You would not realize it is complete digital creation processed on iPhone or iPad if you’re not being told. Or you might even mistake them for photographs when you look at how he’s done portraits of Steve Jobs and Robert De Niro.
Seikou Yamaoka is Not Just Another Digital Graphic Artist
The artist born in 1973 is someone who’s in a generation group that’s slowly made transition into today’s everything digital era. A group that is most aware of the convenience of modern technology and perhaps appreciate it more. Yamaoka fully indulges in the technology himself by choosing his iPhone and iPad as tool to practice art.
Though what makes him so close to our heart is that he uses very accessible drawing app easily downloadable from iTunes. He is showing us that we do not always need the most expensive equipment possible to do art. He has even appeared on TV shows teaching people how others can start digital painting themselves. He also has his own YouTube channel on it as well, even though it is not completely dedicated toward teaching digital painting skills. He is an advocate of digital art, while being an artist himself.
Maybe technology has taken away some of our abilities or even pleasure as such an amazing, clumsy and imperfect creature we are. Like children getting creative with their imagination and filling in the gap when playing house. Or people being excited to think about what we’d find when we make the next turn because there was no navigation system or digital map in our hands before. Seikou Yamaoka is teaching us the joy of working with our imagination in the world where so little is left to imagination. And Yamaoka has chosen digital devices and app that many of us have easy access to.
Could Finger Painting Be Next Norm for Art Practice?
Letters have been taken over by e-mails, paper books over digital books, credit card over physical money. Many people seem to be comfortable about the idea of what could be described as digital invasion. Many take it positively. While some believe letters often have more authenticity than e-mails, Kindle have released booklovers from the physical pain of dragging around books.
When we think of the fact many students take notes on their laptop during classes (should we say type note?), it would not shock us if children starting learning how to draw on their tablet devices at school. There may come a time when casual form of art is done on digital devices and artwork done on actual canvas is for those who practice it more seriously or professionally. After all, digital art is easy to give it a try.
Finger painting would be a good choice for people who’d like to see if painting is something they’d enjoy without buying all the tools first. When we think of all the things we’d have to buy, we’re also hit by the possibility that they might end up becoming another room display that used to be remains of our temporally ‘so-called’ hobby. To avoid it, we may completely avoid taking up new hobbies. But think again. Try being unreasonable sometimes. What is there to lose if we already have at least one digital device on our hand to start with? It is only a click away.
Next time when you have any time to spend on your own and all you can think of doing to pass the time is to go on social media to check out what other people are up to, try googling Seikou Yamaoka. He does have his own website as well as Facebook and YouTube. See if finger painting is something you would enjoy. Even if you don’t find it that entertaining, you may be inspired to look for other use for your digital device or your supposedly free time that we often kill so mindlessly. As we could lose ourselves in the sea of internet at times, all the seeds to nurture our possibility is floating there for us as well. Now let us dive in and bury ourselves in the amazing chaos of modern technology.