What a Joke

Joker under construction
Wanna know how I got these cards? - The forming stages of the Joker in a new movie-mash-up painting with Val Kilmer's Doc Holiday.

“Wanna know how I got these cards?”

That’s what it feels like the Joker should be asking Doc Holiday in my newest project under development. This work is currently in the late stages of forming and will probably change in terms of look and feel from the final product. I would estimate that I’m about 45% through this piece.

The first of a planned many paintings centered on movie mash-ups, the Joker and Doc Holiday sitting at a table together is partly a graphical auto biography. On one side is Doc, a man who prides himself on education, a thinker, an adventurer. Sitting on the other side is Joker, a man of parody, unafraid of being different, a lover of games and laughs. To be sure, I am NOT either of these guys. No I am not a killer, thief, or womanizer. But I can attach some of my own personality traits to these ethically-challenged dudes. Is that why I am painting this? No. Actually I just thought it would be funny to throw these two together on canvas. The funny thing here is that at first you would think they would have nothing in common. One was a real person and one is a fictional character. One believes in the finer things in life and one believes in simply getting dressed. However, when you take a closer look at these men you see some commonalities. For example, they were both into gambling; one with cards the other with human lives. They both saw the law as a concept that was made to be ignored. They both lived their life expecting to die at any moment and when you live like that then you know you’re maximizing your adventure quota. After getting through the halfway stage of this painting, it occurred to me that this painting is an extension of me. I am painting my personality traits on canvas – a visual metaphor. For me, painting is more than a relaxing session of color slapping and charcoal pushing. I think painting is laying your conscious and subconscious out for the world to see and then waiting for the viewers to judge you as a pleasant, charming guy…or a twisted, demented freak. The jury is out on my works; You’ll let me know.

I have been trying to raise the emotion in my paintings and I hope that the manic expression of Joker will provide that heightened state of tension. It’s quite amazing what the eyes can convey. I’ve learned that with 1 stroke of my loaded bristle brush I can change an entire expression from fear to excitement. You can’t paint portraits without learning something about anatomy, and emotion. So how do you better your portrait painting skills? Same as with anything else in life – practice. With this single painting I have learned more about the human face than at any other time in my life. There are just 2 faces in this dual portrait, but they’re the result of many laborious attempts at a likeness. Oh sure, I can paint a face, but you say you want it to actually look like someone you know? Well, that’s going to take some extra time and consideration. Now don’t get me wrong, if you ask me to paint from a photograph of someone then I can duplicate it. But that kind of painting isn’t very interesting nor is it a challenge. In that case you’re simply plagiarizing a camera and if you wanted a photograph anyway then just keep the photograph. The real challenge for a portrait artist lies in taking in subject material, photos, sketches, live models, and shifting the material in your own head to make it something else entirely. To take elements from photo references and then create a unique perspective is a fun and rewarding challenge. So how do you practice this? How do you strengthen a part of the brain that is difficult to define?

Well I’ll let you in on a secret. Can you keep a secret?

Yes? OK well then, (looks around) here is the secret: I HAVE NO IDEA.

No really, I have no idea on a formula to train the mind to improve it visual-spatial acuity. However I’m improving so maybe it just goes back to that old trick we refer to as “practice.” Well as cousin Eddie said in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, “Uhhheye don’t know!”

One thing I do know is the grisaille (black and white forming stage) phase of the painting is nearing completion. Once that is done all that will be left is coloring in the piece. I will have another update before release of the painting. I am targeting a completion date for this painting on January 31, 2012.

I am also working on another painting that will be complete before the year’s end. Since that painting is a gift for Christmas I will not be revealing any information on it until after the new year. But there will be plenty of photos and perhaps even a new video on that work. So please stay tuned.

Coming up in my next post will be a year-end review of my work and a discussion about what I learned and plan on doing next. I hope you will check in to see what I have in the works for 2012. As always, let me know if you have any questions about purchasing copies of my work, originals, or commission information. Thank you to my readers and art lovers. More great art is to come in the new year.

Merry Christmas and happy new year!