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Elephant in the Room

JULY 23, 2007
TJ Tucker called me to do this spread portrait of Ron Paul, Texas Congressman and current GOP Presidential candidate, for the August issue of Texas Monthly. The article is entitled "The Elephant in the Room", and discusses Paul's controversial positions (at least in contemporary GOP circles) on the war in Iraq and government intrusion on civil liberties.  Seems Paul is against these things! He cites both Jefferson and Washington as warning us against "entangling ourselves in the affairs of other nations" and claims that "the biggest threat to your privacy is the government". Come to think of it, those do sound alot like the words of Goldwater Republicans.
Still, he's become a very uncomfortable presence for some in the GOP, and that's the feeling I wanted to capture in this piece. I immediately thought of Rene Magritte's famous painting of an apple, and the sense of claustrophobia it evoked through scale. I also wanted to use color, texture, and physical features to bring out the sense of unease and the connection Paul has with his four-legged roomate. I did this quick sketch for TJ and got started on the piece.
This painting had a fun personal connection for me as well: I went to school at Baylor University years ago with Ron Paul's son, Rand, and he and I were members of a underground gadfly fraternity together. Ron Paul's beliefs seemed far-fetched to many folks back then, but they've gained new converts since, and it's remarkable how consistent his philosophy has been despite a changing world. In that respect, at least, he may have more in common with our current President than we realize.
To listen to Paul's views on the war and the roots of terrorism, and witness the some of the other candidates discomfort with those positions, see this clip from the recent debates:

Watch here
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