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This year, the Microsoft stand at BETT Show brought a vibrant array of devices in education and exciting and zingy Windows Education apps to the itchy fingertips of delegates. From cloud-based planning app My Study Life, ideal for educators and students alike, to the queen of visual mind-dumping and brainstorming apps NovaMind Mind Mapping, visitors to the Microsoft stand were presented with fantastic tools (many free!) to engage in 'Flipped Learning' in the classroom.

However, the app I want to focus on today isn't a productivity tool or even a teaching management tool. This space is dedicated to creativity, and what more impressive a way for primary students, GCSE and A-Level students and even university students to bring to life a replication or perhaps a surreal representation of their artiste imaginations, than through devices in education with Fresh Paint.

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What is Fresh Paint?

So for those of you whose first thoughts are, what is Fresh Paint, I will illustrate.

Quite simply, Fresh Paint provides canvas, paper, paint and brushes to create works of art with a sweep of your finger or, my personal favourite, with the stylus pen paint brush!

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For those of you whose pallets may be absorbing the hints of green scepticism, I want to reassure you that as a painter and drawer myself, used to slathering oil paints onto a thick canvas with a pallet knife, I was utterly wowed by the genuine authenticity of the experience.

10 reasons to use Fresh Paint in Education

Fresh Paint for me is a strong contestant in the creativity category of the Windows apps store for a number of good reasons:

1. Touch Optimisation - Firstly, the 0-time lag in response for every stroke and swipe of a finger or brush on the touch screen is second-to-none, thus providing a seamless and realistic painting or drawing experience.

FreshPaint_PaletteBlue2. Art Tools & Mediums - The range of tools and art resources is fantastic! From water colours, to crayons, oil pastels, oil paints and charcoal, art students can choose whatever medium they fancy, in as wide or thin a stroke as they wish. Additionally there is a broad variety of pencils, brushes and tools to choose from which really do bring the expectations of that tool's effects to life. Of course, I shouldn’t forget to mention that some of the most effective and professional tools of all are fingers!

3. Canvas - You can also select many types of paper and canvas, from heavy-weight card for water colours, to bumpy textured canvas or smoother canvas. This further adds authenticity to the experience.

4. Mixing Pallet - I must admit that my heart fluttered a little when I discovered the accuracy of the mixing pallet. Observing a young child at the Microsoft stand at BETT Show effortlessly mixing (slapping) a cobalt blue and green together on the pallet to bring about a stormy turquoise sea colour was fantastic evidence of the app’s beautiful ability to transcend technological limitations in art.

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5. Layering- You get a wonderful effect with layering on Fresh Paint. With oil paints, the motion of layering colours on top of each other is uncanny - a slight smudgy blend of colour yet with a clear textured layering would bring to life even the most 3d Fauvist style of painting.

As for water colours, colours bleed into one another, as an art student or teacher would expect and you can even 'dab' the colours as if with a piece of towel, to lighten and give water or lighting effects.

6. Drying Feature - perhaps the bane of many students’/teachers' lives is waiting for paint to dry in order to apply other mediums or textures when doing collages of mixed-mediums. Well this will never be the case again thanks to Fresh Paint's handy 'Drying' tool which instantly dries your work, with a tap of an icon, ready to layer onto.

7. Device Compatibility – Fresh Paint eadily works on all Windows 8 touch devices, from an 8" Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet, to a Surface, to the exquisite 27" Lenovo Horizon 27 all-in-one.

8. Bing and Photo Integration - A funky feature is the ability to choose a picture from Bing or a photo already taken, and use that as either a tracing image to 'fill in' for the younger students, or to integrate as a main feature of a work of art for more developed young artists.

9. Save budget - as I explored this app for the first time, I was brought back to summers when I would paint outside or messy school sessions when I would create projects for exams and course work. Both these experiences, fond in my memory, unfortunately required a good amount of money to finance them. Paper, paint brushes and paints do not come cheaply! A set of 10 small tubes of oil paint on Amazon cost £19.99 alone, while a large canvas (120cm x 150cm) can stack up to roughly £40. Just think of the budget colleges and universities could save with a device and Fresh Paint! No more chucking out of finite resources or paint brushes that have been ruined from terms of not being properly cleaned.

I want to point out here that I am not suggesting that Fresh Paint should render art resources obsolete in education. At the end of the day, there is a reason we visit and enjoy Monet’s finished works or even young artists’ works in a gallery, and not in the cloud. However, for certain projects and work such as collages, digital submissions, final project mock-ups, thumb nails, or work that students want to share through social streams, Fresh Paint is ideal!

10. Free App! - and the best news is that you don't even have to pay for the Fresh Paint app! So this is a really accessible app for all students and teachers to use, in Primary Schools, Colleges, Schools and Universities.

I want to leave you today with a challenge. Introduce Fresh Paint to the art and graphics students and see how they take to the paints! Also, as it’s Friday, I want to leave you with a little perk for the weekend that was floating across my imagination last Saturday while demoing the Fresh Paint app at BETT Show.

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