This article is part of The Verge’s collaboration with Smithsonian Magazine to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Art of Painting.
We’ve partnered with Smithsonian to bring you this interactive story about how the art of painting came to be.
We’re excited to share this story with you today.
The Art of Paintings is a collaboration between Smithsonian Magazine and the Smithsonian Art Museum and Smithsonian’s permanent collection of artworks, many of which have been created over the course of decades by artists from around the world.
We can’t imagine how long it took for these works to be created.
In 2009, artist James D. Baugh, a New York City-based photographer, started using a series of photographs he’d taken of people who were sitting in an old car, like the one pictured above.
“It was a strange experience,” Baugh told Smithsonian.
“The car had been parked in the back of a garage for years, so it was like this giant relic of history.”
His photos were intended to show the people who used it, but Baugh also wanted to document how the cars were used in everyday life.
He knew that painting could be a powerful tool for capturing this moment.
“I started photographing the cars of everyday people to see if they could be painted,” he said.
“And then I started doing the same thing for my own cars, to see what people looked like and what their personalities were.
And then, I started photographed people on the street, too.
And all of a sudden, I had this incredible image.”
Over the next few years, Baugh continued to take photos of cars, and he eventually got around to painting them.
The result, called The Sea Bear, was created as part of an art project called The Art and Photography of the Sea Bear: An Autobiography.
“There are some interesting similarities between the way the painting is constructed and how the human body is,” Bough told Smithsonian in an interview.
“There’s a lot of bones in the car, but that’s not a skeleton, and the muscles are not attached to bones.
And the skin is attached to the skin, but it’s actually a combination of skin and bone.”
The painting was made with clay, acrylic paint, and watercolor ink.
It’s a process that has only been done on a few other pieces of art, including a photograph of a cat.
Bough said that it was challenging to create a work that captures the sense of a person sitting in a car, so he took a number of different approaches to capturing that moment.
“I started with the idea of having a blank canvas,” he told Smithsonian, “and then trying to figure out how I could paint the person sitting there on the ground.
The idea was to create this blank canvas so that I could just paint a picture of that person sitting here, and then the picture could be moved around.”
Baugh and his friend David Eichler, a professor of film at the University of Maryland, decided to start with a white canvas, a relatively new medium for painting, to illustrate how a human can be seen on the surface of a car.
“This was the first time I painted with watercolor,” Bugh said.
The two then took a closer look at the canvas, to figure what color it would look like in the photograph.
“So I would paint on the canvas and try to get a color that would match the surface, so that the colors could match up and blend together.”
“I was very impressed,” Eichlers said of the results.
“We were very surprised.”
The two eventually decided to make the work an installation, but they didn’t want to put it on a public display.
“A lot of people in the world don’t realize that there are people sitting in cars all over the world, even in the United States,” Erichlers said.
The Sea Bear has a long history, as it is still a subject of many paintings in museums around the country.
Bugh and Eichller chose to paint it in watercolor, because that was the only way to capture the human form in the water, which was an easy way to work with water.
“That’s when I realized,” Brough said, “that this was something that I really liked, so I kept on painting it.”
The Sea Bears painting has been featured on the cover of Smithsonian’s Annual Portrait of American Artists, and it has been exhibited around the globe, including in London’s Tate Modern.
Brough, who now lives in New York, said he was inspired by the paintings in his travels around the United Kingdom, but he didn’t feel comfortable painting in public spaces.
“What I was afraid of was people being offended by the painting, which is what happened,” he recalled.
“My parents and the museum were very supportive, and they really supported the art, and I think that really helped me to get this painting.”