Tuesday, March 13, 2018

ESPN Commentator Stephen A. Smith

I’m on the basketball court at Madison Square Garden an hour ahead of game time. While the Knicks warm up, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith delivers a fiery pre-game commentary. 

My first step is to wet the paper and drop in a soft ultramarine blue wash with a half inch flat synthetic brush.

I cover the first layers with transparent watercolor and then build it with opaque gouache. I like to get the face resolved early and add surrounding areas later.

(Link to video on Facebook) We see just the top of the cameraman’s head above the camera and part of the logo on his sweatshirt. Most of these areas go down with a large round synthetic brush and generous washes of pigment.

I carry the scene across the gutter of the sketchbook to show the arm of the cameraman. I add just a hint of the basket at the top edge and some impressionistic spots in the background to show that the team is in warm-up mode.

Stephen A, gouache, 5 x 8” 
The essence of this picture is Mr. Smith projecting his fire-and-brimstone opinions to his virtual audience via the camera. The guiding principle for a storytelling portrait like this is to show only what’s essential—no more and no less.  


Patricia Wafer said...

What a great assignment! Thanks for taking us with you!

Steve said...

Among many elements in this sketch, I love how you subtly depicted the shiny reflectivity of the playing floor. Were you familiar with Stephen Smith’s personality and presence before taking on this assignment?