Pollock, Frankenthaler, Klein, and Close may have created paintings without a paintbrush, but pop artist David Hockney makes paintings without any paint. Using his iPad, a stylus, and the Brushes application, Hockney creates vivid landscapes “painted” outside, or en plein air. “People from the village come up and tease me: ‘We hear you’ve started drawing on your telephone,’” Hockney wrote in a catalogue for the de Young Museum. “And I tell them, ‘Well, no, actually, it’s just that occasionally I speak on my sketch pad.’”
The California-based multimedia artist Petra Cortright also creates digitally manipulated paintings on the computer. She layers hundreds of found images using Photoshop, often spending up to 12 hours in front of the screen at a time. Like many artists before her, Cortright has taken steps to reveal these unconventional working methods. Her “painting videos” decompose this process of layering images, and have been exhibited as artworks in their own right.
If Siqueiros sought modern painting techniques for the industrial age, then Hockney and Cortright have updated the medium for the digital era. Removing the canvas, the paint brush, and even the paint itself, artists today continue to invent new methods that expand our traditional ideas about what it takes to make a painting.