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The Tainted Saint

JANUARY 11, 2012
I was contacted by Andrew Nilsen last week to do a cover for SF Weekly. The topic was a tough one.

Church records suggest two candidates for Catholic sainthood – including Mother Teresa of Calcutta – shielded convicted pedophile priest Donald McGuire.
I wanted to be comfortable with the article and that it was objective and resarched, and not a simple "hit" piece - - Andrew gave me a little  time to think about it - and I decided to take it on.
Four sketches- "kubrick Stare", two side views (in retrospect I feel like these were kind of generic) and an idea to show her as a "negative".

It is difficult to find the right balance for something like this. I really felt that Andrew shared the same concerns that I did that the art hit the right tone. Andrew liked  the "kubrick stare" general direction, with felt having her looking not at the viewer would work better- and he was right.  I also decided to  to try to show the damage to her image through the crumbling erosion of the surface she is painted on.The overarching idea here was to make the picture about her "image".
I quick in-progress shot, as the texture continues to break apart

The challenge here was that I wanted to do this painting on a surface that would crack after the painting was done. I ran several  crackle surface tests thursday and  made four surfaces on friday with different degrees of potential surface  instability. It takes 48 hrs to know what is going to happen.
The material I used as a substrate cracks as it cures, so there is a window between the time it is "dry" and when it is "cured". Just as it starts to crack-that's the time when you have to work fast.  Sunday  morning I picked the best surface and got down to it.
Finished art

detail. I also painted a few extra strategic cracks in at the last minute.

Finished cover as it appears on the stands.

This week there are two other  SF Weekly covers featured on  Drawger, one by Dale Stephanos , and one by  David Flaherty, who did last week's cover. Thanks again to Andrew Nilsen for the chance to join the list of great illustrators who have worked for the magazine.