Three recent portrait assignments, each approached in a different way but all with the same slightly nerve-wracking, yet exciting, feeling of having no idea how I was going to execute the ideas.
Rolling Stone Magazine
Most recently, Matt Cooley at Rolling Stone commissioned me to create a portrait of the amazing Austin, Texas guitarist Gary Clark Jr. for the release of his new album “Blak and Blu”.
After listening to a few of the tracks an idea came to mind: a visual synthesis of a traditional bluesman and some funky psychedelics.
I painted the blue toned portrait on a mahogany wood panel. Then came the exciting and frightening part of painting over top with brushwork of brightly colored lines and spheres. If I had more time I might have attempted to explore this digitally, but I didn’t have that luxury so I just had to dive in.
I am very grateful to ad Matt Cooley and creative director and Joe Hutchinson for trusting me to run with this one based on a very loose sketch.
Portrait of Gary Clark jr. for the October 23rd issue of Rolling Stone Magazine.
Orange Coast Magazine
We were on our way to the cottage for a week when Lisa Lewis called for a double portrait of Tim and Jeff Buckley. This was absolutely impossible for me to turn down. Lisa is one of my favorite art directors and I am a huge Jeff Buckley fan.
I had the pleasure and amazing fortune of seeing him play live here in Toronto at a nearby church back in 1993/94. I was completely spellbound by his haunting voice and the transcendence of the performance. I felt I was in the presence of something and someone very special.
Portrait of Tim and Jeff Buckley
for the September issue of Orange Coast magazine
The magazine feature article is an examination of the tragic and parallel lives of father and son. Lisa and I agreed that I should focus on one of the most evocative parts of the article where the author Pat H. Broeske describes a performance that Jeff Buckley gave at his father’s tribute concert. “That night at St. Ann’s, Jeff gave an encore “Once I Was”, the first Tim Buckley song that his mother ever played him. He fought back tears and during the final notes broke a guitar string – so he ended with an a cappella cry.”
I spent a long time looking at photos of both of them and chose a certain angle to echo their similar features.
I knew I wanted that a cappella cry to represent Tim’s portrait in Jeff’s breath, but I had no idea if it would read. It was also a bit tricky incorporating enough space to accommodate the gutter.
Final sketch, incorporating the gutter.
I love collaborating with an art director in trying to make the most dynamite design possible. This truly was created in that spirit. I had seen an interesting typeface on an album cover of Tim’s, and suggested to Lisa that perhpas using something similar would possibly work here. Daniel Pelavin created the the head.
Thanks to Lisa Lewis, and creative director Mindy Benham of Orange Coast magazine.
A double portrait for the August issue of Playboy magazine: a portrait of James Franco interviewing Marina Abramovic.
portrait of James Franco and Marina Abramovic
I wanted to echo her performance at the MOMA (The Artist is Present) where she sits in silence at a table across from a member of the gallery audience. Creative director Rob Wilson thought she should be the main focus of the illustration. I discussed with him how I would like to paint her traditionally with bold colors and perhaps juxtapose that with a more unfinished portrait of Franco. Again, I wasn’t sure how I was going to depict this.
However for this one I did have the time to explore some options and chose to complete the Franco portrait with a digital hybrid of painting and graphite drawing.
Oddly enough, now that I am looking at these three illustrations, all have some threads/lines element in them, but that’s completely coincidental and not done consciously.