Posted by John Grant IV on November 19, 2011 at 8:35 PM

Last night we went to see "Tower Heist."  DUMB.


Tonight, we just viewed "Waiting for Hockney."  I have several thoughts about this documentary.


First of all, if you are a pencil artist, this movie is mandatory viewing.


Secondly, if you are an aspiring artist, this movie is for sure a must-see.


I REALLY ENJOYED THIS FLICK.  It inspired me; and provided for me a cautionary tale for artists.


The main character, Billy Pappas, devoted eight years of his life to drawing the most detailed drawing ever (it happened to be a drawing of Marilyn Monroe).  Billy's intermediary who helped link him to David Hockney is NYU professor Lawrence Weschler.


The detail was fantastic.  The end result was strong.


Here's an email I just wrote to Billy:


Billy ,

I just viewed "Waiting for Hockney" with my wife.  It was very enjoyable to me, as I am a pencil artist as well.  My work is at

I have only been drawing at a full-speed rate for 2.5 yrs.

I have often asked myself the question, "What comes next?" especially as it relates to the worldwide evolution of drawing.  I often think of art in terms of lily-pads.  I see the flow of art jumping like a frog from Bezalel (Look this guy up in the Bible, Exodus), to Rembrandt, to Picasso, to a fellow like yourself drawing "Marilyn," to something new. 

My wife Julie kept laughing b/c many of the ways that you express yourself in your artistic pilgrimage are similar to things that I have told her.

I would enjoy an e-mail dialogue with you about the macro-evolution of where you see art flowing these days.  I admire your pilgrimage and your art.


John Grant


Here is Billy's reply (11/23/11):

Hello John,

It is nice to hear from you, and thanks so much for taking time - away from your pencils - to contact me.

I appreciate your showing me your work and I wish you the very very best!  I also appreciate how forthcoming your are as it applies to the medium, down to the type of pencils, etc.

I use only Turquoise leads.  I have tried the rest.  FYI, Marilyn was drawn on Fabriano Uno paper.

You are very kind to ask me about the evolution of drawing and the trajectory of art.  I am sorry to disappoint you but my answer - and I do not mean to sound flip - is that I do not know.  I do not follow trends in contemporary art.  My goal with Marilyn was to go beyond traditional drawing, painting and photography and as it applies to density, detail and depth of field.  As it turned out, the new answer was a rather old one: a simple pencil.  

Congratulations on your work!  I  wish you the best.

My portrait of Marilyn has yet to go on an official exhibit, except for a couple of ad-hocs, one or two days only, because there was a film made about it.  But there is an exhibit being planned and when it becomes official I shall be sure to invite you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Billy Pappas




Here is an email that I just wrote to Professor Weschler:


Professor Weschler,

I just viewed the documentary "Waiting for Hockney," and I wanted to write you to ask for any advice/feedback you could give for my artwork at

I really appreciate your valuable time.  Like Pappas, I am a pencil portrait artist.  Unlike Pappas, I am not trying to capture every detail in a subject's visage.  Rather, I am attempting to capture the atmosphere, the smoke, and mist between the viewer's eyes and the subject.  I look forward to possibly hearing back from you.


John Grant

College Station, Texas

(pretty far from everywhere)


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