Generally, the apps we use on our phones provide the opposite of relaxation.
Twitter shows us all the horrible news you’d rather avoid, Facebook is full of annoying people you can’t stop creeping and everyone’s distressingly attractive on Instagram.
Amidst this sea of frustration, where can we find an island of calm?
Perhaps in a soothing little drawing application called Patchwork.
The app, made by Hamilton-based development studio Hifyre, is incredibly simple to use, and lacks the sense of fierce competition that occurs in most social apps. You’re challenged to make art, you share it and then the community enjoys it. That’s it.
I think this laid-back feeling comes from its design. When you enter the app for the first time it immediately gives you a drawing prompt, and a variably coloured canvas on which to begin sketching using your finger (or a stylus, if you’re fancy).
There’s a dot under the canvas that signifies the colour of your brush. If you press it, you can choose from the exact colour you want from a colour wheel, brighten or darken the colour with sliders and select brush size.
Once your done, you add it to the communal patchwork, which houses the entire community’s drawings for a particular prompt — or you can hop to the general patchwork, where you can see all the recent drawings. You can also create your own prompt, and see others respond with their own interpretations.
The way that the patchwork is set up, every picture is pretty small — you can still see from afar which ones look amazing (there are some seriously talented artists on the app), but it’s nice that the most-liked ones aren’t larger than the others. It feels inclusive and supportive.
Adding to that vibe, you can get likes, but there’s no option for commenting, which — knowing the internet — is probably for the best. Altogether, it’s an extremely calming to participate in some group creativity.
Even though I’m just a doodler, it’s fun taking some time away from my busy day and trying out a new prompt, then looking at all the impressive drawings others have managed using just their phones and their hands.