It’s often been said (quite often by myself, in fact), that I am no oil painting. I’m never quite sure how much of an insult that is. For instance, you don’t become more beautiful just because someone made a nice painting of you. And equally, just because you’ve been painted in oil on a sheet of canvas it doesn’t mean you’re beautiful, right? The artist might have done the equivalent of today’s Instagram filters by smoothing your skin. Although, relatively few oil paintings have bunny ears.

Anyway, that’s not really the point of this post.

Late last year I upgraded my iPad because I was starting to use Zwift for a bit of indoor cycling. Zwift works best if you have an iPad so you can see the virtual course you’re riding on. But somehow it felt like buying an iPad just to use Zwift wasn’t justified, so I’ve been looking for other things to do with the iPad.

I’m rarely in a lazy enough mood to vegetate in front of the TV, but I’m not always energetic enough to solve puzzle geocaches or write blog posts. So I started looking for something to fill the “twilight zone” just before bedtime. An extra hobby seemed a good idea, but something which doesn’t take ages to set up or pack away.

One obvious thing that jumps out is to try various drawing, colouring, or otherwise pseudo-creative activities with the iPad. By pseudo-creative I mean something relaxing and not requiring a great deal of existing skill, because I have never been an artist or musician, and I’m probably getting a bit late in life to start. So my first port of call was to look for a basic colouring app for the iPad.

The one I chose initially is just called Oil Painting. The app contains a series of “painting by numbers” pictures where you have to select a colour from a pre-defined palette and fill in all the instances of that colour. To be honest it’s not creative at all – it’s more of a puzzle because you (sometimes) have to search around for each block that the colour has to be used in. At least when you’ve finished with a colour it disappears from the palette though, so you can measure progress. So whilst it’s not creative, it is quite relaxing in a certain way. And there are literally hundreds of pictures available in the free version.

Each picture takes me about 30-60 minutes, and they can be shared elsewhere (like on here, for instance). A reasonable extra use-case to add to the iPad’s portfolio. The effect is quite relaxing on the eye.

You can see that I’ve mainly been doing landscapes and cityscapes, which suits my personal interests. I’m not a fan of fluffy kittens or bowls of fruit. As each picture is a place, I’m lead to the challenge of figuring out where itis. Naturally this leads into ticking off which ones I’ve been to. For that, Google image search and tineye.com are remarkably good. Most of the images are taken from stock photo sites, so tineye.com finds nearly all of them. Many I’ve done are major European cities like Amsterdam, Lisbon and Venice, and in a lot of cases, I’d not just been to the city concerned, I’d been to the actual subject of the picture.