Brighton Smith: a painter in love with books


Brighton Smith is a Californian painter, lover of books in particular and objects in general. When I discovered his work, I immediately related to his creations since I share both his love of books and his observation about how “Contemporary culture is obsessed with things, from electronics to fashion objects that demonstrate an individual’s status”.  I love both the aesthetics of his work and the atmosphere they create.

Thanks Brighton for sharing your story with me and all the best for your current show at Skidmore Contemporary Art  in Santa Monica, CA.

Tell us about yourself: Where do you live? What is your background?

My name is Brighton Smith, I was born and raised in Southern California where I attended the Orange County School of the Arts. I attended there from 7th- 12th grade (11 years old to 17). We studied drawing and painting every day for 3 hours after school. This intensive study gave me a firm foundation in drawing and art making materials. I attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA where I majored in Studio Art and Art History. There I learned about the use of expressive color and brushwork to describe texture. I also started exploring what contemporary american society thinks is beautiful. This lead me to paint exotic flowers, pure abstractions and then after graduation I moved into exploring fashion then later books.

Tell us about your art and your artistic path

Subject is an incredibly important part of my work, I am always looking for interesting subjects and groups of subjects. Books are amazing because they are mass produced but individuals hold books to be very personal as if they are one of a kind. This duality of books fascinates me. I am also old fashioned, I have yet to transfer over to reading on an ipad and I love the feel of paper. Books hold a special place in my heart because they were the first place I could go to dream. Later I turned to painting in order to dream. Contemporary culture is obsessed with things, from electronics to fashion objects that demonstrate an individual’s status. People spend money on all sorts of things and they spend money on all sorts of drinks. My recent exploration into what people consume, is through cocktails, I love cocktails just as much as the next person, they allow for a person to let go but we all want to be around people who buy us drinks.

Can you describe your artistic process?

My process begins in a sketchbook with just word association and then moves into my phone or ipad to look for images that represent those words. I search the web for beautiful books, the titles often begin with just a brainstorm of things I love, then the objects to compliment them. I do some compositional drawings in my sketchbook then I move into painting, I begin a canvas by “drawing with paint.” I take a traditional approach to painting, with initial thin layers of turpentine mixed color and quick drying medium. I will complete the initial layer which includes all the color and the finished objects. The brainstorming process takes a few weeks but once my ideas are solidified I can get a painting to the end of the first stage in a few hours. Then I allow the painting to dry fully and begin with lettering. At the end of the lettering process, which takes 4-5 hours on each painting I finish with the white impasto background.

 What is the question people ask you the most?

Do you own all these, Books, Shoes, Objects?

What is the question you’d like to be asked?

Why are these things grouped together?

What are your projects for the coming months / year?

I am exploring groupings of bookshelves and sets of texts without other objects. I am also exploring painting book covers.

Facebook : Brighton Smith Artist

Instagram : @artistbrighton

Web :

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