Since 2010 Covell has experimented with both iPhone and iPad drawing programs to create abstract compositions alongside his works on paper and canvas. As digital technology has continued to evolve, so to have the drawing tools on devices. Equipped with an iPencil that can mimic the physical sensation of painting, Covell has been able create abstract visual arrangements of colour and pattern on a new surface. These varied and unique compositions not only reflect the spontaneity of his painted artworks or their woven interpretations, but also have pushed his own artistic style forward. The technical innovations mirror Covell’s own creative evolution over the last decade, underpinned with research into the relationship between colour, mark making, music and synesthesia.

Recently, Covell’s digital paintings have begun to reflect and reference his sculptural experiments in plasticine. Whilst those forms are 3D physical interpretations of his 2D paintings, the iPad drawings are an attempt to combine both: 3D forms and colourful shapes, interacting and existing simultaneously on a 2D plane.

click on artwork to view videoListening To Rocket RemixListening to… Rocket (Grum Remix), IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM STILL, 2021
metal water woodmetal water wood, IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM still, 2021

Animated paintings form part of Covell’s current body of work, exploring video as a format to present work in new contexts and potential environments. What began as small experiments with moving image have developed into serious investigations into the physical act of painting and how an artwork can be viewed in an ever-growing digital context and changing art landscape.

Film has encouraged Covell to question the concept of ‘experience’ and how does an audience view a ‘painting’? Is it purely only a static composition, stretched on to canvas and rigid or can it be a digital performance – developing on a screen, the artwork evolving as you watch it?

These abstract ideas have encouraged Covell to ask the question: “what is a painting in the 21st century?”

click on artwork to view videoCloudslistening to… ‘bouncing off clouds’, IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM STILL, 2019
Candy Shop_2021Candy Shop, IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM still, 2021
Je Disaparais dans tes braslistening to… ‘Je disparais dans tes bras’ , IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM STILL, 2021
click on artwork to view videoListening to Music 1 2listening to… ‘music’ (SELF PORTRAIT), IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM STILL, 2021
click on artwork to view videoTo The Beat_2
To The beat

To The Beat was one of Covell’s first experiments with full length video. In this series the artwork plays out in real time, running in unison with the music that inspired it, as opposed to earlier digital sketches that were more suggestive references to the sound or sections of a song – a verse, chorus or instrumental interlude. To The Beat shows a new confidence in Covell, creating a continuous painting with a run time over 3 minutes, and recently other films as long as 18 minutes. These compositions fully capture and illustrate Covell’s experience of listening to music and seeing sound because of his synaesthesia. Covell’s new and more complex animated films are the culmination of Covell’s research into translating music into a physical visual form on a surface.

To The Beat_4To The beat, IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM still, 2019

The film To The Beat was inspired by the song Back that up to the beat by Madonna, from her  2019 studio album Madame X. Starting and ending with a white screen, a visual interpretation of the silence that exists before and after a song, the painting slowly unfolds. Covell position’s this artwork within the same context he sees music, as an ephemeral ‘object’ which exists only when heard. Covell’s digital compositions and colourful arrangements exist only when being viewed via playback, echoing how sound can be turned on or off with a switch.

Like Covell’s other works, To The Beat plays out in real time and the digital painting slowly reveals itself to be an ever-changing abstract landscape, one that is in a constant state of creative flux and rhythmic tension. The composition is constructed of moving patterns and forms, varying in size and colour, overlaid or hidden.

Whilst most larger shapes and colours in the artwork remain fixed, becoming part of the painting’s permanent background architecture, serving as visual anchors or introductory shapes that prompt the next response, most brush strokes swirl, appearing or disappearing as soon as they arrive, creating fluid organic rhythms and characteristics.

In 2020 To The Beat was selected for the inaugural Hertfordshire Open 2020 exhibition at St Albans Museum & Art Gallery. In early 2021 the art film was acquired by UH ARTS, becoming part of their permanent art collection and the first video artwork in their collection.

To the Beat_3To The beat, IPAD ANIMATION PAINTING FILM still, 2019