A few months back as I was working on a series of digital paintings on my iPod I decided to try something like a figure drawing. Up to this point I’d only done portraits – mainly because of the small screen size – and I suppose I’m more drawn to portraits, anyway.
A friend of mine told me about the work of Andrew Loomis and I picked up a copy of his book, Figure Drawing: For All it’s Worth. I decided to do a study of one of his drawings, only paint it in a style reminiscent of Gil Elvgren.
It was fun to do, but painting this small is a real challenge – getting the face right was the hardest part. Anyway, here it is:
This is the latest portrait I’ve done in the Held series. Like the others I painted it on my iPod touch. This one is based on a mugshot from the 1920’s.
The third series I’ve been working on is portraits of my family. My son was interested in the portraits that have become the Held series and asked if I would paint his portrait, too. I had him sit for me a few times. I don’t think I’ve completed a piece that I’ve had as much emotional investment in before.
He wore that red shirt specially for this portrait – it’s actually a Smurfs shirt. I didn’t put that in, though, as I thought it would be distracting. I have three other portraits in progress for this series (including one of my cat) which I will be posting soon.
This is the first image of a second series of paintings made on an iPod touch. Part of the reason I’ve been doing portraits like this is I like the feeling of intimacy these pictures have, held on a small screen. It reminds me of the miniature paintings travelers would carry with them before the invention of photography. Portraits like that were often used as a form of introduction, or to have an image of a loved one with you when you couldn’t be together.
After doing a number of portraits of people like this I felt compelled to do something a little different. So here we have the first of a set of animals, in this case a chimpanzee. The challenge with this painting was to imbue it with a sense of presence, but not a human one.
This is a series I am currently working on called Held. The work came about after a few things happening around the same time. One was that I had an iPod and was wondering what I might do with it creatively, another was I found out about an app called Brushes from a colleague. The third was that I had been looking at a series of paintings made by Théodore Géricault, his “portraits of the insane”.
In 1821, Géricault painted a series of ten (only five remain today) portraits of psychiatric patients. What I find compelling about these images is that the circumstances around their creation were very unique for the time. These people he painted hadn’t commissioned his services and certainly wouldn’t own the work when it was complete. I think it is for these reasons that Géricault was free to paint these people as he really saw them. There is no attempt to flatter and there are no favors to be gained by connecting with these people. The result is something so honest and psychologically complex.
I considered doing studies of them (I still might), but what I wanted to do more was something new. So here we have this series: