Hanging on the walls of Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts are large-scale canvas paintings that didn’t utilize a drop of paint.
Nor a paintbrush.
Boulder photographer Russell Croop has created paintings with just the touch of his fingers — and his iPhone.
What: “Painting through a Keyhole: The iPhone as Canvas,” by Russell Croop
When: Friday through Feb. 12
Where: Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
Etc. The Dairy will hold an opening reception from 6 to 7 tonight.
“I’m a total iPhone maniac,” said Croop, who uses painting applications to create art on his Apple smartphone. “I can just paint with my finger. It’s amazing how technology has come around. It’s like a whole different genre.”
One of Croop’s pieces, “My Living Room,” is believed to be the largest iPhone painting to date, containing 41,090 finger strokes. It’s one the pieces that make up Croop’s exhibit, “Painting through a Keyhole: The iPhone as Canvas,” which opens tonight at the Dairy Center and runs through Feb. 12.
The applications Croop uses, such as NetSketch and Brushes, have brush detail with options for spacing, size and texture, as well as colors and opacity. The paintings can be zoomed in up to 1,600 percent, allowing for detail such as Croop’s recreation of book titles, leaf detail, guitar strings and street signs.
The zooming at such detail causes pixelation, but Croop hasn’t had any major problems.
“You just zoom in and start painting,” Croop said. “For ‘My Living Room,’ I just sat on the couch watching TV for about a week and I just painted with my phone.”
Croop had paintings printed at Mike’s Camera, and he and his wife were blown away when they saw the large-scale versions.
“It looks great. We were really happy,” Deb Croop said. “It’s so fascinating. People look at them and say, ‘This came from a digital file from your iPhone?’ It’s just amazing that he did all this art with a touch of his fingers. It really is like painting through a keyhole.”
Croop bases most of his paintings on his own photographs. He retired in 2005 as the photography teacher at Fairview High School after 32 years of teaching.
Most of the paintings capture a colorful Boulder, with scenes of Pearl Street dancers and local institutions.
“I think I have a certain style,” Croop said. “A lot of people tell me my photographs look like paintings, so I’m kind of playing with that in-between world of paintings and photographs. I love that photo-realism feel.”
Croop said he hasn’t touched a paintbrush since college.
“With the iPhone, I get that same feeling of creativity of painting without the mess of cleaning,” he said.
Croop is well known in the small, albeit budding, iPhone art community, and some of his works will be featured in an upcoming book authored by iPhone artist David Scott Leibowitz.
Mary Horrocks, gallery coordinator at the Dairy Center, said she thinks Croop’s use of the iPhone expands the world of art.
“It’s fun. I think the use of the newest technology to produce art keeps things interesting,” Horrocks said. “Using the iPhone is making art accessible to a broader audience.”