Friday, July 20, 2012

Painting on Polaroid

I was invited to Tim Mantoani's photography studio last friday, to collaborate on an art project.

The plan was to draw Tim Mantoani, while Chris Park filmed the process. Beyond that, details were vague. We intended to improvise, collaborate, make something up on the spot - film it and post it on the interwebs. We figured that would take the rest of the afternoon, so we ate Vietnamese pork sandwiches first.

I asked to draw on an old camera box, something photography-ish, or personalized to Tim. Offering help, Tim dragged in a giant cardboard box - the box a Moto Guzzi motorcycle was delivered in. Nice piece of cardboard, but it didn't say Tim enough for me.

 "How about drawing on a Polaroid?" Tim ran up the stairs looking for one.

It was a lot bigger than I expected, thinking of those little, square, white ones. A large format Polaroid is bigger than my drawing board! 20 x 24 inches, plus extra at the top and bottom.

We tested a corner of the Polaroid with a dab of acrylic paint, and it stuck like crazy. The surface was better than expected to paint on. Colored pencils would not show up on the dark slippery surface. Markers would work on light areas. Ink seemed to stick. My mind was scrambling about how to draw on that surface.

Our idea was taking shape.

Painting on Polaroid.

One image slowly develops into the another, over the course of a time-lapsed video.

I'd paint his portrait, on top of his giant Polaroid self-portrait, and we'd film it. Both portraits combined into a collaboration - each artist treating the subject his own way, in layers. The process of transformation from one to another captured, in time lapse.

The whole idea was nice and symmetric. We decided to make an afternoon of it.

I sat in my place, waiting, with my drawing board and art supplies, while Chris Park set up a giant soft box, lights, and four Canon 5D cameras. We estimated 20 minutes to draw the portrait.  It took 34.

Chris programmed the overhead camera to slowly travel, about 6 feet over the course of the video. The rig crawled along a rail with a camera atop, clicking away every second. The second camera was on Tim, a third faced me, and Chris operated the fourth camera handheld.

Tim sat across from me, unsure if sitting still for 20 minutes would really suck, or not. Or how bad.

Chris said everything is ready, and all the cameras started clicking. They sounded like an old grandfather clock, but louder.

Yikes! I better start painting something - squinting at the subject, I started mixing white paint in a baby food jar to stall for time... Watch the video to see it all go down!

Tim Mantoani  Paint over Polaroid: Smith/Mantoani

20 x 24 inch Polaroid, white acrylic paint, Japanese brush pen, india ink.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Forgetting You

forgetting you - drawings from sketchbook 32

The girl you can't forget - no matter how hard you try. A sentimental longing for the past, a beautiful girl, a perfect night... and remembering things the way an artist does.

forgetting you - sketchbook 32 - Graham Smith
forgetting you - detail
forgetting you starts in Sketchbook 32 - with a blue acrylic wash over graph paper. The idea to draw something nostalgic built from that color. This color blue seemed both happy and sad, like remembering a girl from long ago, maybe, the one that got away?

Her figure was drawn in ink, with a fountain pen. Her skin, acrylic paint, thinned way down to milky white. The background, her dress, india ink black. Pink colored pencil. Her cheeks and knees were pink colored pencil. I'll never forget.

This drawing was filmed on my desk with the iPhone 4s, and time-lapsed using Stop Motion Recorder app. The titles, music, and all that, were created with iMovie.

Place a camera next to you while you draw and see what happens!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Worth: A Year of Portraits

Over the last year, I've been lucky enough to illustrate portraits for Worth magazine's 20 Questions feature, Art Directed by Valerie Sebring.

It is an honor to be a part of this award winning magazines year. In celebration, I've collected all the 20 Questions portraits together. Here they are, in no particular order.

Worth Magazine's 20 Questions portraits: Illustrated by Graham Smith.

Aby Rosen - Real Estate Mogul - Read More
Tom Marchant - Hi Tech Travel Agent - Read More

Ink drawing of Mindy Grossman
Mindy Grossman - CEO Home Shopping Network

Blake Mycoskie - Gives away shoes

Duncan Quinn - Fashion Designer - Video

Howard Schultz - CEO of Starbucks - Read More

Willam C. Paley - Tycoon
Micahel Mina - Chef

Pen and ink. Hunts nib #: 513ef, 99 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Internet in Your Eyeball

If you saw the movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, or the promo video for "Google Glasses" you are familiar with the concept behind augmented reality and "the bionic contact lens". One day, medical conditions may be monitored directly, in real time, non-intrusively through the eye, using the bionic contact lens to measure sugar levels, or hormone changes.

Or perhaps the word Facebook will become literal, as internet access will be embedded directly in your eyeball!

Babak Parviz is the genius, nanotechnologist, who is in the process of developing this amazing new technology. I was lucky to illustrate his portrait for the new research magazine PACIFIC STANDARD - designed and Art Directed by Craig Edwards, article by Vince Beiser

The parts are so tiny, they are designed to self assemble using amino acids as attractors, or something like that. Read the article.

Learning about cool stuff like this is one of the best parts about being an illustrator!

I illustrated tiny little portraits of the Publisher of PACIFIC STANDARD, Steven Ainsley, and the Editor, Maria Streshinsky. See the nano-portraits on the Letter From The Editor page each month!

editor: Maria Streshinsky
publisher: Steven Ainsley


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