Amazingly talented Port Macquarie artist Mic Rees is pushing the boundaries … using a mobile phone to create his latest works.
> We’re extremely impressed with your latest artwork, and more astonishingly you’ve created it using the equivalent of a mobile phone. What was involved in the process?
The artwork is created on an iPhone or iTouch using a program called ‘Brushes’. This program allows you to paint directly on to the screen using your finger, just like finger painting on any other surface. But it also gives you the option of choosing brush sizes and all possible colours, as well as allowing you to zoom in and out during the process.
What I find especially attractive about the device is its portability. It is akin to having a portable studio and paint box. It allows me to paint digitally anywhere, then email or upload to a website immediately.
It is, in essence, a digital sketchpadn – a companion for the digital paintings which I create on my computer.
It has the additional advantage, because of the lit screen, of allowing me to work in the dark. This facility presents a whole new opportunity and challenge to paint scenery at night.
The process allows me to capture my subject instantly, giving me a fresh sketchy feel to my work which is really enjoyable.
> What are some of the favourite pieces you have done using the new technology?
I like some of my road pieces, such as ‘Cathie Straight’ and ‘Road Home’ (from Port Golf Course).
Also among my favourites are some of the tree paintings and beach paintings. How can you not enjoy sitting outdoors painting?
Some of my night work, even the one of my wheelie bins, are among my favourites.
> A lot of your past work depicts landscapes, but are you also doing portraits now?
Not really. Occasionally I have been doodling with some cartoon portraits. I mostly enjoy doing landscapes and whatever comes to mind at the time, such as night work and abstracts.
> As an artist, what inspires you?
The different lights and shades which I see in landscapes, water and beach studies. The colours and shapes of native flowers, a series I have been working on recently.
I like to pull over in the car and paint roads and some of the unusual scenes in the Hastings …the ones often missed or ignored. Some of the industrial scenes might be worth trying.
> How has your status as a digital artist grown? Do you think the medium has now earned the respect of traditional artists?
Once traditional artists understand the process, they become interested. It is really just another medium, another way of painting, only the paint doesn’t run out.
While it still confuses some people, the basic painting techniques and the way the painting is structured does not change.
I use my finger or a pen on the iPhone or, at home, I use a digital pen and tablet, just like a brush and palette.
I still occasionally receive a comment such as, “Is it a photo?” I think the word digital might throw people.
I am thinking of making some short movies showing, right from the start, how the digital painting process works.
Has my status grown? I tend just to keep my head down and paint, but as the medium gets more popular and digital galleries are popping up, more interest is being shown in my work – quite a bit in my new iPhone work over the last few months.
> Who are some of the artists you look up to in this emerging medium?
I have always liked the work of David Hockney, a traditional contemporary artist. He has dabbled in digital art and now does daily paintings on his iPhone, which are wonderful to see. He loves the medium.
Then there is Jorge Colombo, who painted the cover for the May issue of the New Yorker Magazine on his iPhone. That inspired me to start using the iPhone.
Although I use digital tools and a computer, I feel my paintings have a traditional character. I’m not much into manipulated photos and the effects sometimes used in digital artwork. I like straight painting.
I admire the more traditional contemporaries people such as Hockney, Olsen, Boyd, Whiteley, Lloyd Rees, Turner and others.
> Is it hard to part with your work when you sell it?
Yes, some more than others. With some I have a personal connection, an emotion or feeling of attachment. But generally I am chuffed when someone buys my work. It is wonderful to feel that someone appreciates the work that I have enjoyed painting. It’s a bonus.
> What’s next for Mic Rees?
Paint, paint, paint. I am preparing for a solo exhibition of my digital paintings next year at Sea Acres in Port Macquarie.
The exhibition, called ‘Wild Things’, will feature digital paintings of native flowers of the Hastings area and will contain some of the largest works I have done to date.
I am also hoping to organise an exhibition of my iPhone art, which in the meantime I will keep adding to my website at www.reesdigital.com
I am also developing some interactive work, graphic designing daily to keep the wolf from the door and getting some food and sleep in my spare time.
> Thank you Mic.