When the iPad came out this Saturday (iPadurday), I had to keep myself away from the local Mac store. Instead I sat at my desk and went through all of the tutorials and fell in love with this new bit of technology-- I am a visual artist and to have a surface to touch and maneuver everything with my fingers rather than a keyboard and mouse sounds like heaven! I have been waiting for the iPad since I first learned the computer-- "Why can't I just touch the screen and move it?" was my first question when sitting at my boss's new computer at the New York Public Library in 1986. Now I can touch the screen and push and shove and scatter things around like my desk top, at least I could if I bought an iPad. But I will abstain for now. I will wait for the kinks to get ironed out. I will wait for the speed to get faster and the price to come down. I will wait and continue to use a mouse and keyboard to put together keynote presentations and organize my images and words. And every time I visit a mac store, I will drool.
Most people who meet me think I am "earthy". Perhaps this is from living my formative years as a hippie in California and attending the University of California, Santa Cruz as an undergrad. Perhaps it is my fingernails always blackened with soil from spring until fall from the gardens I tend. I like to think it is my big hearty laugh that makes me earthy-- but whatever it is, everyone is always surprised to find that I have an iPhone and a small laptop that I carry with me most places I go. During book groups and writing groups if there is a question about an author or a book, I whip out my iPhone and look up the book on Amazon or Wikiamo (iPhone app for Wikipedia). If there is a question about the weather, I can look up ten days worth of predictions anywhere in the world. (Whenever I get homesick for India, I look up the weather in Mumbai-- not that it changes much from when I was there in October!) I no longer need to ask for directions or search for the dictionary in the house-- it is all there on my iPhone. I have even begun to paint with my iPhone. Last fall I read an article about David Hockney that inspired me to download my first "paid" app: Brushes. Now I paint while waiting in lines or while resting in the afternoon after studio and before dinner-making.
All of this technology is wonderful, even addictive, but when I begin a new book, it is with pencil and paper that I write out the first draft or sketch the first dummy book. And it is the paintbrush with whom I have had the longest lasting relationship-- and it is with this intimacy of hand-held paintbrush that my final illustrations for books are created. Perhaps that is my earthiness-- I always come back to the traditional methods of art making used by our ancestors for thousands of years- brush to paper/brush to cave wall-- it is all about that intimate touch from heart/mind and hand.