The Eyes Have It

Early Grisaille Painting of Joker and Doc Holliday Playing Poker
Early Grisaille Painting of Joker and Doc Holliday Playing Poker
Whoa….eyes can really grab your attention can’t they? They are such a confrontational part of the body. They reveal intentions and they hide motivation. So what better way to grab YOUR eyes than by painting some dramatic eyes in a portrait?

Say hi to the Joker. Yeah, that guy has a few screws loose. Heck he has a few screws, a dozen bolts, and a score of clamps loose. But what is behind that pasty white makeup and lime green greasy hair? He’s always smiling but is he really happy or just burying some deep torment? I think we know the answer to this one. He’s just freakin’ nuts and that’s about as far as you need to go with the psychoanalysis.

This is a midterm expression of the current painting that I will be wrapping up this week. The final product has changed slightly which you will soon see in full color. This is simply a side trip to gain another glimpse into how I approach a painting. Most likely when looking at this painting, you are immediately drawn to the eyes of the Joker. Yes, this was by design. With his crazy makeup and manic expression, what better way to tell the audience that this is no typical portrait. This is a journey into the darkness with a twist of just plain goofiness.

Contrast this with the eyes of Doc Holiday. What is he telling us by looking at us? He’s visibly annoyed to be sure. But perhaps he is also just a bit scared. I mean he is playing poker with…ahem…the Joker. The whole idea seems riddled with slapstick. But that is the intent here. To take two personalities with essentially nothing in common and shove them together into a scene of pure farce. It’s one of my new ideas: the movie mash-up.

Why mash-up movie characters? Well why not? We all watch them. We all love them. Why not bring together the characters we love and observe them in a “what if” scenario? I like to equate it to the idea of an all-star game. Let’s take baseball’s all-star game. The game is just an exhibition of the best of the best that satisfies the fan’s fantasy of what the best team on earth would look like. In reality you would never see such a juggernaut of a franchise. In this same manner, you will never see this collision of characters in a film or any other media – except on canvas. It satisfies my curiosity of what a universe that features a gun-slinging outlaw and a eccentric deranged clown would look like. I simply look for a trivial commonality, in this case: cards, and I bring them together in an arrangement of derangement. How do I get the derangement? The eyes have it.

The final product will be revealed next week and a new episode of Brushes and Bytes Video Blog will follow that. Though the updates have been sparse of late, that does not mean I have not been working hard to finish this piece. I also have new ideas coming down the pipeline so keep coming back for more updates. Time to wrap up this baby. Until next time…

2 thoughts on “The Eyes Have It”

  1. What is Grisaille?

    I think the premise of this portrait is interesting. I certainly wonder about these two playing cards together. Holliday is a card shark, and even though it’s difficult to prove because he’s so sly and good at it, he cheats. I wonder at his nerve, cheating at cards with the Joker; and I wonder at the Joker’s reaction when he discovers the deception. Definitely a loaded confrontation.

    I’m eager to see the finished product. The Joker’s eyes at this stage are much more dynamic than Holliday’s, and I find Holliday’s expression almost comical. Like he’s turned to the audience and said “Whaaaaat…?” I’m looking forward to the final piece, and seeing how that differs from your intermediate stages, such as this one.

    1. A grisaille (gri-zy) is a technique for working out form and composition before dealing with color. It’s one way to simply the painting process and I find it most useful when working with portraits. Shadow and dimension are difficult on their own and so this method defers that process until after the form and layout are complete. I can easily modify the look of the painting since I am only painting with black and white at this point. For this piece I painted over the composition about 25 times. If I had painted in color it would have been a mess to cover and start over with.

      Thanks for the feedback.

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