Steve Wacksman
December 2006
Rising To The Challenge
The holidays. A busy time of year, we must all agree. Last minute shopping, social engagements, travel, violent sacrificial rituals, overeating, binge drinking and uncontrollable mood swings- why, it's a wonder we get any work done at all!

I have a full dance card lately; a big job that I'm trying to get under control before I head North for the holidays.

But J.D. King posed a challenge to me and I'm not one to back down from a challenge. Unless there's some risk of bodily injury or financial loss. Then you can pretty much forget it- my Mama didn't raise no fool.

Anyhow, JD posed the following challenge: produce a portrait and post it without any indication of who it's meant to represent.

I thought about doing either Hitler, WC Fields, Woody Allen or Groucho Marx. But  in the end I decided on this fella.

So, JD ( and whomever else chooses to play) go ahead- make your guesses. There is no prize for the winner, but wrong answers will be penalized with a tax audit and a 'frog punch'. So guess carefully.
A Little Later, Another Nader
Ralph's Rebirth
My last post was a portrait of Ralph Nader. It was an ugly affair and I considered it a failure. What left me somewhat vexed was why someone like Nader would present such a challenge. Bell's Palsy has left half his face partally paralyzed. His eyes and eyebrows alone say almost everything that need be said.

I felt that my previous portrait captured his likeness ( although looking at it now I see it even less- he looks more like actor Dan Hedaya), but I felt that stylistically it was stiff and graceless. I put it away for the weekend and tried to put it out of my mind.

Today before starting work I sat down a doodled a portrait of Nader from memory. I wanted to implement the convention that all the great characaturists do: exaggerating the most prominent features to capture the likeness. I thought again about Nader's eyes and eyebrows and his crooked smirk.

And lo, Ralph started to appear! I went to my photo reference and tightened up the sketch until I had a likeness that is at once recognizable and stylized and, to me, sums up Nader much better than my previous attempt.
Ad Mac, This One's For You:
Ok- stop looking at this.
Esteemed colleague Adam McCauley recenty recalled a grueling experience he had trying to capture the likeness of Ralph Nader.

I thought to myself: "Self, how hard could Ralph Nader be? With those brows and crooked countenence; why he's practically MADE for a characature."

And so I set about the task. And to my surprise, Mr Nader resisted interpretation quite heartily. "Sonofagun", I said to myself,"Ad Mac was  right- this guy's tough".

It was a bitter struggle. After mopping up the blood, sweat and tears I was left with a portrait that i believe is recognizable as Nader, but at the expense of style and finesse. It is, in technical terms, a big soggy sack of sh*t.
Star Gallery
Beyonce. Not Eva Longoria.
I've never concentrated on doing portraits; I enjoy character design so much that it's always seemed somewhat pointless. In addition, I've suffered the most at the hands of egotistical subjects that feel that i didn't adequately capture their unique beauty and radiance .

I'm not really interested in plastic perfection, which is why I prefer doing portraits of male stars to female- it's difficult to make the ubiquitous Beyonce (above) not look like omnipresent Eva Longoria - it's all hair, teeth and eyes.

But I had a great time doing these and I think most are pretty succesful. I ask you, my friends, to critique these so i can hone my skills.

Check 'em out HERE.
A Brief Treatise On The Bomb Pop and It's Influence In Contemporary Illustration
The Bomb Pop; A masterpiece of efficient and iconic culinary design; at once a refreshing and sweet summertime delight and visual reminder of US military might.
Seeing this now makes me want to punch myself in the face it sucks so mightily.
My artistic output has been bedeviled by these frozen treats for . years now. Though it pains me to do so, i reveal to you a piece I had published in the venerable Annual of American Illustration #16, published in the late Juraissic ( and, incidentally, the first and last time my artwork would ever be included between it's hallowed covers).
See what lengths I;'m willing to go for you, dear reader? So that you may see the evolution of the Bomb Pop and better grasp it's place in the annals of Illustration history?

You're Welcome.

Anyhow, here's one I did yesterday that was the catalyst for today's painting. And yeah, JD King- those antennas  in the main image above are indeed ripped-off directly and unapologetically from you.
A Little Holiday Cheer
Keeping the momentum up. Oddly, this one took 4 tries until I got it right and I must confess: I took it to Ye Olde Photoshoppe for a bit of clean up.
The Devil You Don't Know
That's right, "Sin".
I've been painting as much as time will allow. Results are still mixed, but I'm getting a feel for what I'm doing and 'finding my feet' as they say.

Maybe this doesn't take advantage of the wet medium so well, but I really dug it. The drawing needs some help - one of those horns is kinda skewed, but I'm gonna do more of these and keep it loose and easy.

I've titled this one "Sin" for complicated and personal reasons. Don't try to figure out why...
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