Sunday, August 15, 2010

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.


Blogger Junior said...

Thanks for this post Jason. I was particularly interested in hearing about the reference setup. I use "Poser" and 3DS Max sometimes to work out reference and lighting but why go through all that effort when, with a few well placed shots, you have it right there?
And well done on the turnaround time. Its a challenge.
My team and I have used you and others online and I have to thank you personally for the inspiration you give. I am approaching retirement age rapidly and will be confronting freelance illustration as an endeavor.
I'm a South African granddad working on contract in Saudi Arabia and my wife works in Vietnam and, soon, Nigeria. The untenable situation of seeing each other only once a year was a prospect for which I had absolutely NO escape. Once I saw your work and what you have achieved at so young an age is an inspiration to me. I am not blind to the difficulties that lie ahead but I will face them with renewed motivation and energy, thanks to you. I will take your course as soon as I have the bucks together. (heck, I only discovered and purchased a Wacom tablet for the first time recently!) If you get a chance, have a look at my website
Thanks for what you do for aspiring artists out there!!
Kind Regards, Junior

12:43 PM  
Blogger Wilson J. Henry said...

As always I am amazed at your freakish ability to turn an illustration around in a matter of hours, and do it with such life and character. Amazing.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Aaron Wilkin said...

Looks awesome man!!!! Thanks for sharing the process!!! It sounds like stress city, but definitely worth it in the end!!

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its always nice to see the progress of a painting. And to have to do such a painting in such a short amount of time is really inspiring! Do you mind my asking why did you end up deciding to add so much space to the top half of the painting? It looks good, Im just wondering what made you think of doing it.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you very very much. I am glad you attend my request, showing the sketch. I am interested in expression, more than the tecnique, and there is a significant gain in the expression from sketch to the final art (the eyes, especially). Congratulations.
I work in caricatures by other style, using minimalistics lines only, having fewer resources to achieve expression, and your generosity exposing the process helps a lot.

7:31 PM  
Blogger pol serra said...


8:14 PM  
Blogger Noah Stokes said...

Love hearing the how to. You da man.

8:59 PM  
Blogger AHMADiTo OrTeGa said...

It is either that Obama is wearing the same ring or you guys have a unified engagement ring protocol in the US !!! :D

1:28 AM  
Blogger ramanjit said...

after seeing this post .you just ZZZZZZZZIP my right you are god of this art.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Damion009 said...

this is to funny!!!! I dont know if he would think so.

5:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got Obama down pat. Love the likeness and life.
Hey! You've got some serious ink too. Why don't you give us a look. My son is a tatoo artist in Berkely.
Best regards, Bill R.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Brendan... said...

Brilliant yet again. Your work just blows me away. Well done young man.

12:11 PM  
Blogger igoohit said...

wonderful post jason, thanks for the inspiration. apart from the final result of the art, it's your attitude during crunch time that i admire. our kind of job sometimes isn't rewarding enough to compensate to the kind of determination you put in to it. your the michael jordan of the art world:D love your comment duplos;) cheers j:D

12:43 PM  
Blogger BenL said...

Nice painting, and with such a quick deadline! It's neat and helpful to hear what is expected from other artists on certain jobs. It kind of demystifies the life of a freelancer. Keep up the amazing work and enjoyable posts!

2:20 PM  
Blogger Javier B.V said...

Eres el mejor!

2:47 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Amazing Jason, your process from the get go is so precise and I agree with you I love the looser style rather than photorealistic although your painting has that nice blend of the two which is hard to achieve. Thanks for posting your process its neat to have a glimpse of your world when your creating these masterpieces!

6:19 PM  
Blogger William K. Moore said...

You look rather presidential Jason. Just a matter of time before the Commander in Chief gets to sport some rad tats. Enjoyed the story behind the illustration. Takes guts and talent to stay in the game - and thanks for showing us your hand.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Jorge Restrepo H. said...

It´s a fantastic class!! I really like so much all these step by step. It´s wonderful that leave us to see your creative process.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Marco Bucci said...

this is awesome man. What I love is how the sketch gets life injected into it when it's painted, rather than the opposite.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Thomas Fluharty said...

Beauty bro. Love the expression but really love the shirt. seriously its wonderful. ~T

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Top Pokers said...

Thanks for sharing, really like your view. Waiting for some more great articles like this from you in the coming days.

12:54 PM  
Blogger ian said...

Great look at your process! And the finished piece looks great

10:13 AM  
Anonymous zach said...

Holy Moley that's awesome. The chips make it. I also like the motion blur thing. It's a perfect touch.

10:59 PM  
Blogger andres casciani said...

that's great! thanks a lot for shearing your working process!

6:44 PM  

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