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An interview with artist Rob Miller

We recently featured two iPad paintings by artist Rob Miller. We were so impressed with Rob's paintings that we decided to dig a little deeper into the mind (and heart!) of Rob as he brings his impressive oil painting skills to the iPad. Rob was kind enough to share some of his latest paintings with us, including this superb demonstration video (seen above).

Tell us a little about yourself, your background and your passion for art?

I am a high school art teacher (fine art and computer art) who loves to paint and draw. I returned to the easel three years ago after a 15-year hiatus during which I was raising two daughters. When I started to paint again, it was difficult for me to put into words how I felt after so many years of being away from the process, but it was like coming home. I guess that's the best way to put it. Reflecting and rediscovering the essence of who I am has been quite a journey. My medium of choice is oil, with the still life as subject matter. I excel in the mastery of light, space, color and attention to detail. The opaque and translucent properties of oil enable me to achieve stunning results ranging from atmospheres full of air and depth, to warm and inviting colors that reflect a knowledge of light and space. I create these atmospheric effects without the benefit of photographs providing an underlying structure, preferring instead to draw and paint solely from life. Though the inspiration for my work is drawn from eighteenth and nineteenth century artists (Chardin, Latour, Fabritius, and Manet), my approach is fresh and modern. My paintings are technically adept and emotionally engaging. I feel that a successful work of art connects with the viewer, stirs the imagination, and touches the soul.

What were the primary challenges you faced in moving your skills to the iPad?

One of the main challenges I faced when moving my skills to the iPad was finding the right app. When I started painting on the iPad, it wasn't a very serious commitment; I would just doodle to explore the capabilities and possibilities of the available apps. I started with "Sketchbook Pro," (an amazing app) however, it wasn't exactly the right fit. I then started to explore the possibilities of "Brushes." The interface felt more intuitive, and though there were fewer options to choose from, they were the right options for me and what was starting to happen with the doodles.

The doodles went from abstract experimentations to realistic imagery. I started to explore some real possibilities of how I could use this as tool. This all happened while sitting in a Starbucks. I decided to tackle an interior scene to see if I could capture space, depth and atmosphere. Three hours later I ended up with this piece, "Busting up a Starbucks." I then started to draw my students (Portrait 1, Portrait 2 & Portrait 3) while they were working on their assignments during class. After several sketches of various students, I began to realize what an amazing tool this is for the visual artist. I will be exploring the landscape next. I want to create a sketch on-site with the iPad, then take the sketch and use it to create an actual oil painting on canvas using the iPad sketch as my study.

How can Apple and third party developers improve the richness of the iPad painting experience?

I think the only thing left to do to improve the richness of the iPad painting experience is to enhance pressure sensitivity. I just recently ordered the Nomad Brush, and I'm really looking forward to experiencing the feel of using an actual brush while painting on the iPad.

Many thanks to Rob for taking the time out to share his thoughts on iPad painting. We look forward to seeing what Rob thinks of the Nomad Brush, it's certainly a favourite around here.

Be sure to check out Rob's 'Painting Journal'.

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