There's Another App for That – Q&A with Lisa Thorpe

It seems to me that the one constant on which we can rely in this world of technology is change. Just when I feel comfortable with a new piece of software or the latest digital platform, something changes. I have held on to old floppy disks, outmoded cameras, and even a VCR for years before admitting that the times (and technology!) have moved on. In today's world of constant updates, we can't always ignore those changes.

Art by Lisa Thorpe

When I first saw the work artist Lisa Thorpe was doing combining drawing on her iPad and printing her digital results onto fabric, I was in awe. Her work is fresh, fun, and exciting, and I couldn't wait to try the technique myself. After a few experiments following Lisa's tutorial that we published in the current issue of Quilting Arts, (October/November 2012) I am also hooked on this great way of creating art fabric.

But there's a catch . . . the original version of the Brushes app that Lisa used for her tutorial is no longer available. I asked Lisa to fill in our readers with an update on how to use her tutorial with Brushes 3, the updated version of the app.

Vivika: Lisa, I just love your technique! iPad art is something I can see artists who work with different media exploring in their work. I've heard that the Brushes platform has been updated recently to Brushes 3. Have you tried the new version of the app?

Lisa: I found out from a Quilting Arts reader that the Brushes app wasn't available as of September 18th, right as the magazine was being sent to subscribers. I quickly found the Brushes 3 app and downloaded it.

I have had a chance to do a couple of drawings with the new app and it is essentially the same with a few added features. They have added more layers, more control over the size and shape of the canvas, the color palette is expanded, and some of the operations have been made simpler. I think these are great improvements, and there is a brief sample tutorial that will help get people started.

Vivika: Have you explored any other drawing apps on your iPad?

Lisa: I have tried out several different apps. There are a lot out there, and many seem to be designed to keep kids entertained and don't have a lot of versatility. My research has pulled up a few that are directed to artists and designers. The Brushes 3 app of course is what I've landed on but there are good reviews for SketchBook Pro, too.

Recently I tried ArtRage. This app is intriguing because it simulates paint in a more realistic way than any other app I've found. I have been playing around with the watercolor and ink modes, and have created several journal pages in my iPad sketchbook library. I look forward to becoming more familiar with this app.

Vivika: Any tips for someone new to drawing on a tablet?

Lisa: The best tip I have is to start off by trying all the strokes and features and playing around before you want to create a finished product. When you are familiar with the way it works, start with a very simple still life. Just like with any artistic medium, you have to put in the time. I always tell the folks that take my classes to remember this is a first date; you're just going for coffee and getting to know this new medium. To have a relationship you have to invest the time. This goes for anybody exploring a new art form, so enjoy, explore, find your voice . . . see where it'll take you!

To see more of Lisa's work, visit

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8 thoughts on “There's Another App for That – Q&A with Lisa Thorpe

  1. David Hockney had a brilliant exhibition at the National Gallery in London a few months back where a room was devoted to his wonderful art on iPhone or iPad I’m not sure which. These masterpieces were enlarged & exhibited there, what a treat that was to see.

  2. Just got lucky! My daughter loved your tutorials. combining her love for arts and apps, plus your techniques. She’s trying some apps on her iPad, hope we could share sometime