Inspired by the past

As I am primarily a painter a great deal of my inspiration and motivation comes from looking at the work of other artists such as Francis Bacon, Caravaggio, Rubens, Lucian Freud and Velazquez. The art of the past is a rich source in countless ways and a fun instructive challenge is to find close equivalents using Procreate.

One of my original aims for using Procreate had been to work in an equivalent way to actual act of painting and drawing (either on-site or in my studio) attempting to recreate painterly effects digitally simulating the look of fluid, layered, textural paint qualities. The advantages of using the app would be speed of execution and time saved in set-up and drying. This work in turn could then either be used as a stand-alone image or as reference and inspiration for an actual painting.

Procreate techniques

The convenience of using the iPad and the Procreate app means you have a mobile studio in your hands with which you can respond in the moment to anything you might come across and be inspired by.

My interest in exploring paint effects and arranging visual information easily in response to an illustration or in the gallery is great practice for my own work.

There are a vast array of options offering many possibilities to simulate something that may have been made with paint. Deploying layering, opacity, combining brushes with broken paint effects, dragging, repeating, distorting, collating, cutting, collaging, blurring and repetition will yield incredible results that move very closely to what you may have seen in paintings and drawings in an art gallery or out in the urban environment or landscape.


Develop your style by copying the masters

‘The styles of the past were developed by copying. Paintings come from paintings…Giorgione knew Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini, and employed Titian, who knew Tintoretto, who was followed by El Greco, who was copied by Picasso…’ Jeffrey Camp

Taken from ‘Life Drawing on the iPad’ Chapter 7 Being Inspired (Crowood Press, 2018) by Julian Vilarrubi (available from Amazon)

Life Drawing on the iPad by Julian Vilarrubi

Life Drawing on the iPad by Julian Vilarrubi

Follow in their footsteps

Tintoretto obsessively drew small-scale plaster models of sculptures by Michelangelo, lit by an oil lamp to provoke dramatic deep cast shadows. The soft tonal progressions of Leonardo’s sfumato are learnt from his teacher Andrea del Verrochio. The bold gestural marks of Rubens are displays of human action full of energy and movement. Egon Schiele’s believable, tense linear distortions and elongations charging through the figure demonstrate his understanding of anatomy and allows the figures to be convincing. Caravaggio’s cinematic lights and darks fill the negative spaces with mystery and suggestion. His unidealised streetwise characters step out of the shadows, half-caught in revelatory intense illumination. Degas copied as much as he could. In Rome, Naples and Florence between 1856 and 1859 he copied the work of, amongst others Titian, Mantegna, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Uccello, Filippino Lippi, Mantegna, Carpaccio, Botticelli, Signorelli, Leonardo, Bellini, Perugino, Raphael and Giorgione. Degas had his own vast collection of paintings to work from that included Ingres, Delacroix, Daumier, Manet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Pissarro, Cassatt, Morisot.

‘It was through imitation that he discovered and trained himself, instinctively drawn to the greatest: he was of their breed, following in their footsteps.’ Anne Roquebert

Procreate: a tool of possibilities

Any tool that offers more possibilities will give you further options to explore. It’s knowing how to get to those places that will open up the possibilities. The speed at which you are able to find variations will allow your work to develop by exploiting previously unimagined areas. It’s also addictive and fun.

Francis Bacon’s paintings are wonderful examples of creative paint application. Looking closely will reveal that process. Get up close, unpick, find equivalents using Procreate, understand the process, and allow that to feed back into your own approach either on the tablet or on paper or canvas. It’s a very useful exercise in exploring effects and colour combinations.

For me drawing on the iPad has reminded me that it is possible to create successful work that doesn’t require a high level of detail. Having the ability to create with energy, repeatedly, to copy and adjust provides a freedom that might not be so easily available using traditional means. This in turn fuels potential and builds confidence.

As I am a painter I mostly use Procreate from the painter’s point of view. However, any creative will benefit greatly from all of the approaches on offer. With a tailored Procreate programme discover how the many options can apply to you as an architect, textile designer, fine artist, interior designer, garden designer …

Julian Vilarrubi at the Francis Bacon exhibition (Royal Academy 2022)

Admiring a work by Francis Bacon

Use Procreate in your own creative practice

Through our introductory training course and bespoke tailored sessions we have helped all kinds of creatives to use Procreate in their practice:

  • A costume designer who wanted to learn how to create designs digitally that could be repeated, adjusted, developed, catalogued, printed, and shared with ease.
  • A painter who needed to translate their work into digital versions to be made into NFTs.
  • An architect who wanted an immediate method of visualisation for potential clients.
  • Numerous others that had a specific creative task to complete that would take them away from the confines of working on paper and rapidly increase their production rate!

To find out how we can help you, why not book a free consultation today?

How we can help

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