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July 4, 2005

Portrait of Shield Albright

by sven at 8:05 pm

Today's my brother's birthday. ...Happy birthday!

Going with my 2005 gift-giving theme, I decided a few months back to paint him a portrait. As with the portraits of Michael and Alison, I started from a source photo.

It's a graduation picture, and bro is doing one of his traditional Boris Karloff mugs for the camera. I'm really quite fond of this shot, actually. Both my bro and I are a little... odd. This shot captures his... uniqueness ...rather nicely.

I was going to do a 5"x5" posterized painting. But after hours of fiddling, this was the best image I could put together. It's not so bad -- rather reminds me of a "Misfits" album cover. But it's just too complex for the scale I was after.

So, throwing up my hands, I started fooling around in new directions. When I came up with this next image, I fell in love. Notice, compositionally, how the frame of his eyeglasses creates a circle at the very center of the image. I thought that was neat; very powerful. It also gave me this Rembrandt / Francis Bacon vibe that I really wanted to capture.

I imagine giving this picture a title like "anxiety"... Yeah, it's macabre for a birthday gift -- but like I said, we're both kinda unique.

Now here's the painting I did. It's 2'x2' on gessoed masonite, charcoal and acrylics, covered with clear tar gel medium. Those rich blacks -- they're all charcoal. I had intended to do the whole thing only in charcoal, but I couldn't get the whites I wanted with just erasing. I wound up going in with white acrylic to work the highlights.

It's a bit distorted, but I'm OK with that aesthetic. It's free-hand afterall. The forehead isn't quite what I intended -- but I'm pleased with the hands. And the completed results look very painterly.

It seems like a very raw piece, so I didn't want to frame the portrait. Instead, I hot-glued wooden rails to the back, and used them to attach a wire for hanging. The intent is to avoid putting anything between the viewer and this presence in the room.

This was a good project: it didn't go in the direction I expected -- but it helped me transition to working on a larger canvas, and more expressively. It took forever to complete, and how I got it packaged for mailing is a whole story in itself. But hey -- here's a gift like nothing else you'll ever receive, something with some magic that will live with you (or haunt you, as the case may be) for years to come.

posted by sven | July 4, 2005 8:05 PM | categories: painting