Edward Chee's Pocketful of "Plein-Air"
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Edward Chee’s Pocketful of “Plein-Air”

Artist uses the mobility of the Nintendo DS to create works of fine art

The new exhibition "Plein-Air In My Pocket" at the Gladstone Hotel features works by artist Edward Chee done on the Nintendo DS.

Plein-Air In My Pocket
Gladstone Hotel Art Bar (1214 Queen Street West)
October 4–10

A new exhibition opens today at the Gladstone Hotel, filled with pieces of fine art with a twist—all the work in “Plein-Air In My Pocket” was created on the Nintendo DS, a portable gaming system. The DS has a touch-sensitive screen, and using a program called Colors!, artist Edward Chee was able to—as the title notes—paint “en plein air,” a French expression meaning “outdoors,” with a device that he could carry comfortably in his pocket. The context of the works shifts when Chee reveals that the mobility of the DS allowed him to paint during a family emergency, his father’s hospital stay while fighting cancer.

For Chee, the ability to paint was more than a way to pass the hours waiting in the hospital. “It allowed me to spend some time with him, look at him, draw him, see him, while he told stories about old-China or something,” he notes in an email. With his father now healthy, the paintings are a reminder of a difficult time, but one that allowed for bonding between the pair. (Chee jokes that although his father thinks the paintings of “Plein-Air” are well done, Chee should still get a “real job.”)

Chee chose the DS for his work because the Nintendo device has a pressure-sensitive resistive screen rather than the capacitative screen found in most smartphones and tablets. He says he is now awaiting the new version of Colors!, recently announced for the next-generation Nintendo 3DS device, which would allow for 3D artwork. Very soon, Chee will get an opportunity to push plein-air painting into a new dimension.