Bad Bets Obama
"Bad Bets Obama" for The Weekly Standard. Another two day turnaround . . . I was called Wednesday night for the job, and like all jobs for TWS, the final is due Friday. There is a lot to consider to be able to pull off a job like this in such a short amount of time. I've learned to remain calm, and work at a steady pace. The first thing is to get the idea right, and make sure the sketch is working. Then it's all about painting.
After arriving at my studio Thursday morning, I spent the first hour or so gathering reference and working on sketches. For lighting, clothing, and expression, I set up additional reference in my studio and took pictures of myself. Thank God for digital camera's, timers, tripods, string, and duct tape! I needed a specific look for Obama but couldn't find the right pictures of him online. So, I had to create an Obama from scratch using a couple pictures that I had of him for basic shape and so on, and then I had to take additional pictures of myself making the expression that I wanted to see on Obama's face. It was a real challenge to get the likeness just right, but was totally worth it in the end. This way I was able to control and create my own lighting and expression.
I think the most challenging bit about this piece was painting the poker chips. I thought they would be easy . . . I was wrong. I thought I could just simplify them and suggest, keep it really painterly. But as I began to work on them I realized they required more attention. I kept Obama and the table somewhat painterly but real enough that if the chips were too loose they would just look unfinished. So I decided as time was running out that I would focus on painting the top chips and then simplify or suggest the remaining chips, this way creating an illusion of sorts. This seemed to work . . . ?
All in all, I feel great about the final result. There are things about every painting that I do that I know could be better, and if I only had more time . . . blah, blah, blah . . . the bottom line is that you've got to do what you can with the time given to you and do the best you can with it. You have to know what you are capable of . . . I have no regrets, I had a great time working on this piece, and I'm grateful for the work. Part of the fun is figuring out how I will be able to pull it off in the amount of time given to me. I love setting up reference, and creating images, and then seeing them in print. It's a blast!
Detail . . . I prefer painterly over photo realistic . . . I love seeing brushwork in a painting.
This is my first quick sketch, just trying to figure out everything, expression, composition, and so on . . .
This is my mock up that I sent before starting the actual painting. Done rather quickly. I prefer to make changes and adjust while I paint.
An example of one of my reference shots.