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Meet The Artist Painting Chicago With An iPad, Steve Connell
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Meet The Artist Painting Chicago With An iPad, Steve Connell

Picture of Benita Gingerella
Updated: 11 December 2015
Unlike most painters, Chicago artist Steve Connell uses just his iPad and finger to create beautiful digital paintings of iconic places of the city at night. We recently got a chance to talk with Connell about what inspired him to create his ‘Chicago Night’ series.
Margie’s Candies | Courtesy of Steve Connell
Margie’s Candies | Courtesy of Steve Connell

TCT: Your paintings have such a unique look to them. What made you make the change to creating your paintings using your finger and iPad instead of a paintbrush and easel?

SC: A few years ago, I downloaded a painting app for my iPhone and started sketching and painting with it just for fun. I soon realized that perhaps this new technology wasn’t just a novelty but could actually be a final medium. I switched to an iPad and started to seriously devote time to the paintings I was creating on it. All of my painting techniques and skills translated to painting on the app. I started this night series of Chicago venues — diners, bars, clubs, el stops, etc. and found I loved the quality I was getting with the printed and blown up versions of the paintings. I feel like I achieved a look and feel that I wouldn’t have arrived at with traditional media. An apt correlation would be when musicians realized they could achieve the sound of natural instruments with electronics and computers and yet created a whole new sound. I am completely hooked on the medium now.

TCT: How do you pick which places in Chicago to be featured in your work?

SC: When it comes to subject matter, places just call out to me. I love the way night transforms not just the physical places themselves but also the mood and atmosphere surrounding them. Some venues I paint are well-known night spots others are just little corner dives that catch my eye. I like the ‘urban isolation’ feel you get late at night, when the streets are empty and you can hear the buzz of the neon and the echo on the sidewalks.

TCT: Where do you see yourself in five years?

SC: I hope to continue expressing my visual sensibilities by creating art that resonates not only with me but also to others who share the same sensibilities.

Green Mill Lounge | Courtesy of Steve Connell
Green Mill Lounge | Courtesy of Steve Connell

TCT: What is an artwork you would like to have in your living room?

SC: I would love to have any one of Edward Hopper’s urban night paintings on my wall.

TCT: What is your favorite museum or gallery?

SC: I love The Museum of Modern Art in New York. By some freak of timing, I once found myself alone in a room that had Van Gogh’s Starry Night and realized the unique position of being the only person in the world viewing it at that particular moment in time.

TCT: How would you describe yourself in 80 characters?

SC: A curious observer who is interested in seeing what is around the next corner.

TCT: North or South?

SC: North

TCT: TV shows or movies?

SC: Movies

TCT: Twitter or Facebook?

SC: Facebook

Painting process | Courtesy of Steve Connell
Painting process | Courtesy of Steve Connell

TCT: Play or concert?

SC: Play

TCT: Left or right?

SC: Left

TCT: Apples or oranges?

SC: Apples