Artist’s Notebook:
Austin Lee

12.23.13 Marina Galperina

ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished piece. This week, artist Austin Lee talks about his cartoon-inspired digital action painting.

I lost the original video that was the inspiration for Slapstic (Action Painting), but my friends Kati Gegenheimer and Dan Flaherty were nice enough to make a reenactment video.

A few weeks before making the painting I had downloaded an iPhone app that simulated slow motion. I think it was using motion interpolation to create new frames between the existing ones. This didn’t create a great slow motion effect but made some interesting and weird static frames. Using this app we tried making a few different videos to see how it worked. After our slow motion video experiments I discovered smear frames in an animation class. This technique is when an animator will draw a character’s movement between two keyframes in an exaggerated way.

It was such a crazy solution to simulate movement but also complicated and beautiful as a single image. Seeing these made me go back to the video footage and look at the individual frames a lot closer.

I made a sketch on my iPad and realized I could use a soft brush in photoshop to draw the blur of the moving hand. I decided I would translate the drawing into a painting and started working with my airbrush on canvas.

I want the experience of viewing the painting to be as physical as possible. The size and the intensity of color really separate the digital drawing from the painting for me. The images are similar but feel so different when you are in front of the actual painting.


See Austin Lee at Postmasters in the group exhibit “casting a wide net.”

Previous Artist’s Notebook selects:

Artist’s Notebook: Jonathan Monaghan
Artist’s Notebook: Rafaël Rozendaal
Artist’s Notebook: Kate Torn
Artist’s Notebook: Andrea Crespo
Artist’s Notebook: Mattie Hillock
Artist’s Notebook: Faith Holland
Artist’s Notebook: Rollin Leonard
Artist’s Notebook: Don Hertzfeldt