Guiding Stars/Potrait of Jonathan

Hey, anyone remember that time I went to the art museum and then complained a lot? There’s some earlier posts about it. I saw a set of paintings there that I wrote about that may have changed the trajectory of my painting somewhat.


Unfortunately, because my painting improves at a glacial rate, I’m not sure that the impact of my trying to learn from someone else’s masterpiece is going to come through very clearly anytime soon. What’s a vehicle that moves slow- a zamboni maybe? When zamboni’s turn it’s hard to see what the difference is, but then later you can look back and there’s a different…trail of …clean ice? I could google what zamboni’s do, but I won’t.

There’s another style of painting I’m trying to learn from:


This guy is over at construction junction- the half black and white realism and the zany, chaotic colors work great. Why? I’d like to channel whatever is making that works. It’s compelling, and fun, and has comic book power. It’s fusion of epic nature with Saturday morning cartoons is thrilling. I want to live in that universe.

So, below is my attempt to fuse those two directions together to make a new portrait style:

You can see from the progression that the hand and the book angle were two of the hardest parts. Getting the head shape right was also tough. I wasn’t sure how much glass to use, either, and did it a couple of ways (not shown) and had to remove glass to get the body to make proportional sense. Building up the art was also essential to get the proportions right. At one point if you had shown the body extended beyond the frame, the painted space implied a perfectly square man. That had to get fixed too by curving the shoulders correctly.

And then finally, here is the finished product: IMG_0634

I’m pretty satisfied! My next question- when I do the next portrait, should the glass be light? This works in part because the parts that are farthest forward in the photo are also the parts I made the most 3 dimensional. There’s a unification of direction- everything is coming out ot at you in a way reminiscent of the way he’s leaning. Will the style work is that relationship is broken? Can I use cool colors to represent light? How much glass should I use in the future?

It might be a deep vein to mine. I think if I keep going, this is the best direction for me to make regularly compelling portraits. I’d like to use some of the smokiness of the first painting I showed, as well as continue to have paintings of people not looking at the “camera” or the viewer. Lots of work. Good thing I still have two years before that show.

One Comment Add yours

  1. bvanpatter says:

    Very cool, Nathan! I liked seeing the progression — I hope you do that for other paintings, as well.

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