PlayART by Tapook is an interesting art app allowing children and adults to create their own images using the details found within famous works of art.
Five artists are covered, specifically Van Gogh, Monet, Klee, Cezanne and Rousseau allowing children to be exposed to different styles of art, also learning about these artists from watching short videos and exploring a museum of these artists' original paintings.
The main section of this art app works very much like a typical sticker application that many children are already exposed to where one can choose a background and then add any details they may choose to create their own images.
The impressive new take within this app is to allow children to produce their own images based on these artists, where users can choose one of many canvases from these painters as well as the details found in these works of art, such as Van Gogh’s sunflowers, Monet’s water lilies, Klee’s colorful geometric shapes, Cezanne’s vibrant fruit choices, or the intriguing animals of Rousseau.
I appreciate that this section includes a "delete" as well as an "undo" button, also allowing players to create duplicate or mirror images of these details as well as shrinking or enlarging these elements and locking them in place so they don’t move with a drag. It is also nice to see that one can layer details the way one sees fit, as “front” and “back” buttons are included allowing users to choose what details are in the foreground in front of some images as well as behind others. Also of note is the ability to add the signature of these artists - a nice touch.
Interesting musical elements are also heard with every tap of the screen when working one’s own painting, a a nice inclusion of sound within this app, yet I could see some players thinking these noises are jarring and distracting. Luckily, these sounds are easy to silence with the tap of a finger.
Also included within this application are short videos of each artist describing their basic style of painting. I enjoy the look of these videos, using pencil-like animated drawings and a fun example of paper art used to represent the artist used as a backdrop to introduce these paintings, allowing the colors found within these paintings to pop against the minimal backgrounds. I did find, however, the child narrator difficult to understand and her momentary lack of confidence while being recorded a mild distraction, as is the slightly muffled recording.
The explanation of these artists' use of color and other comments are thoughtful, but do not expect these video clips to be very biographical as Van Gogh is said to feel alive and happy surrounded in bright color until he had a fight with a friend and fellow artist, leaving him sad and alone. These are true tidbits of information about Van Gogh, but other details of this troubled artist’s life are greatly glossed over, an issue especially if all that is known about this painter is how bright colors make him happy, as Gogh was known for many things, but happiness was not one of them.
A museum section is also included where one can edit or review one's own saved art as well as gaze at the original paintings from the included artists.
I appreciate the ability to see the original artwork which is focused within, but the organization is odd for me, as I would assume the works of art would be displayed in a timeline of art history, grouping Monet’s impressionism first to be followed by the post-impressionism painters, followed by Cezanne and Klee, but this app has these painters randomly arranged instead without insight regarding influences or a timeline.
At the bottom of the page, one tab per artist can be tapped to be taken directly to their paintings, but it is unfortunate that users can scroll through these paintings without any notation of when they venture into another artist's works of art.
It is also odd, that while van Gogh’s tab is labeled “1853-1890" (the years of his life), the other artists are inexplicably labeled with these years as well. Henri Rousseau is also referred to within this application as “Henry” - odd as his name is spelled “Henri” within his signature and in general, instead of the more modern, popular spelling used here referring to this artist
Even with these issues, the ability to embrace the different elements found among famous paintings is remarkable, as they look wonderful on the iPad as the colors are bright and bold, as well at times, soft and serene. Van Gogh brush strokes and the texture found in some of Monet’s details are equally as vivid. Because of this, PlayART by Tapook will has a wide audience, from preschoolers to adults who appreciate art history and are looking for a fun, creative application to enjoy.
It is admirable the inclusion of artists such as Paul Klee or Paul Cezanne as these names may not be as common to children as Van Gogh or Monet, but their paintings may be recognizable nonetheless. Children will also love the fantasy aspect of Henri Rousseau, as his dream-like paintings remind me of images from Where the Wild Things Are.
It would also be nice to also see other more modern painters included in a possible update such as Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali as well. In a future update, I think it would also be fun to include a “free play” section allowing one to choose from all the painting elements and canvases at once, mixing and matching the details and backgrounds of various painters just for the sake of fun and creativity.