It is not uncommon for someone to observe a work of art and wonder how it came to be. That initial curiosity and admiration for how everything came together is partly what inspired me to create the multimedia video “A Painted Smile.” Since I always find myself drawn to the creative process, I wanted to explore what I believe is the childlike wonder we feel when we observe the work taking shape before our eyes. At least that is the sentiment I hope it inspires in the viewer. Another motivating factor in making this project is the potential insight gained when we watch the process unfold. As an artist who is always searching for improved ways of executing a project, I was inspired by similar videos that either helped me learn new techniques or reinforced older ones. Thus, I wanted to produce something that would also prove to be educational. Both the title and the final video image is an allusion to Leonardo da Vinci’s “Leda.”

To illustrate the step-by-step process of how the painting was done, from the initial sketch to the final product, I used photographs and a portrait painted in an iPad app called ArtRage. I began by hand drawing the portrait and photographing the initial stages such as the opening of the sketchbook. I then took a photo of the completed drawing and upload it to ArtRage. Since the app automatically records the painting process, I took stills from the recording to create a short stop-motion video. I imported the photographs and painting stills into iMovie and added some complementary audio, making it a multimedia presentation. The music served to further enhance the concept of transforming the white canvas into a colorful portrait.

Similar to impressionist paintings that encourage the viewer to complete the image by visually combining the broken brush strokes, “A Painted Smile” encourages the viewer to observe and question the incomplete work as it takes shape. In this way, the viewer becomes part of the creative process. Thus, by watching how the painting was made, the viewer can then see and maybe even learn from the steps that it took to make it all come together.

Since the painting was done digitally, I also hoped that in viewing the process, people might gain a better understanding of what a digital painting is all about. In the age of Photoshop, digital images are quite easily dismissed as artificial and inauthentic. However, with an app like ArtRage, or any other digital painting app, the artist is still very much in control of the same design elements he or she must deal with in a traditional painting. What I hope people take away from this viewing experience is that this is not about taking a photograph and manipulating it to make it look like a painting. Given the various drawing and painting tools in ArtRage, the final image can look as traditional or contemporary as one chooses. Consequently, I hope “A Painted Smile” may serve to expand the appreciation for the aesthetic value of digital paintings.

Note on the Author

Mara Araujo is a graduating senior majoring in English and minoring in Communications.

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