Of the millions of doodles, sketches and clumsy photo edits created in Microsoft Paint over the past 32 years, there are likely few – despite any claims made by the creator – that can be called bona fide works of art.
As Microsoft prepares to remove Paint from its operation system by default, and instead make it available for free in the Windows Store, one amateur artist is lamenting that masses of young people could miss out on the opportunity to play around with the iconic program.
US illustrator Pat Hines works exclusively with MS Paint (he says he “sucks” at Adobe Photoshop and other such programs), and taught himself to get the best out of the simple graphics tool while working as an overnight security guard at a hospital.
Pat has self-published an e-book set in a 1980s summer camp, with all illustrations done on MS Paint.
He told the BBC he uses several different versions of the program, which was launched in 1985, on old computers, including one previously owned by his parents.
He says the process is time consuming, but relaxing and “almost like meditation”.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easy, it definitely takes quite a while. It could take upwards of 20 hours [of work] for just one piece,” he adds.
But why does he use it?
Paint, he once wrote, is “the one medium where the end result always lived up to what I had in my head”.
Much of Pat’s other work incorporates characters from popular TV shows, comic books and films.
Pat says anyone who wants to master MS Paint needs a lot of free time – something that he had in the early 2000s when his only other option for distraction on long night shifts was playing Solitaire.
He says it’s hard for him to transition to more sophisticated graphics program.
“I draw basically with the mouse and it’s very different from drawing with a pen or a stylus. It’s just fundamentally different,” he says.
But he also appears – like countless others – to have a distinctly emotional and nostalgic connection with MS Paint.
“I’ve always loved it and I’ve tried moving on to other programmes but I could just never connect with them.”