artCircles spins great art for iPad

Spoiler alert! Art lovers will appreciate artCircles more than any other art appreciation app I’ve seen on the iPad. It is ingenious, colorful and free associative in a way have yet to see on any computer or device. Best Buy.


Even if you look at art and try to convince yourself that your three-year-old could do that, artCircles will provide you a way to look at art that makes the experience enjoyable. You may even figure out why your three-year-old is no more likely to create some modernist masterpieces than cats, elephants or tree frogs.

If you love art, I won’t have to sell you at all. artCircles makes art fun in a way other apps can’t. Not only does the app offer a broad spectrum of classic and modern art and photography, it makes finding art as fun as a board game.

artCircles links images through a series of wheels. Developed by the website art.com, the app allows you to find art by collection, color palette and inspiring words. Art.com promises additional circles in the months to come, but my favorite has to be the texture circles.

Interlocked wheels drive the home screen interface. Spinning one wheel turns the other wheel to reveal a sample of the images in each link. Art.com promises to add circles in the future.

Anyone who sat in front of a painting in a gallery or museum and then seen it in print or on a poster is almost always let down. More than a matter of scale, the loss is one of texture. Seeing a painting on the wall allows you to see the textures created by the artists’s tools, and these can bring life to a painting you could never imagine.

The textures view tiles images in a way that allows viewers to zoom in and see the texture captured by high quality digital scan. This is something film could rarely capture. Art.com is still working out the kinks, and even digital texture is flat compared to the real canvas. But you can get a sense of the ripples and curls and piled on paint crafted by brushes and palette knives.

The interface is as elegant as any I’ve seen. Spinning the topic wheel turns a series of thumbnails on the images wheel, giving you a glimpse of the linked artwork. Once you select your collection, you can play the collection as a slide show or scroll through the images one at a time.

The image page is elegantly designed. Most images describe the painting and you can order prints directly from the app.

Most of the images contain detailed accounts of the art and story behind each piece. You can also create an art.com account to save your favorites, post the images on your facebook wall and even purchase framed prints of favorite images to display in your home or office.

This is one of the best collections of art, prints and photos I’ve seen. Most of the major periods are covered, and the collections cover graphic and commercial images as well as fine art and photography. The reproductions are astoundingly clear and the color palettes vibrate on the iPad3 retina display.

A fun feature allows you to superimpose the paintings on an image in your camera frame or a picture in your camera roll. You can resize and reposition the art and then save the picture and email it to family.

You can also take pictures of your home or office with images with the art superimposed in the images. Then you can email the photos to your friends. I’ve seen this feature in other apps, but artCircles allows you to position and size the image against the background.

If I were an art teacher I would recommend this app to any student with an iPad, which they can buy with their Apple student discount. The combined price (free plus iPad) is slightly more expensive than an art textbook, but it won’t sit on your shelf all semester before you sell it back for ten percent of what you paid.

Jenny Manytoes rates artCircles

Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over artCircles. The colors are so pretty she wants to catch them and drag them under the couch with all her other kills. artCircles would be a best buy even if it weren’t free.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.
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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day.
This entry was posted in 5 Stars + Best Buy, Art appreciation, Education, Free, In-App Purchases and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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