Following a recent cinema inspired project (A Clockwork Orange), I started to discover another aspect to my increasingly ambitious Pop Culture inspired work, stylistically, technically and thematically. As I've broadened my use of tools and mediums, my style has gradually strengthened in its natural tendencies while becoming more complex and detail oriented. I've long felt a bit like an illustrator in practice with a fine art sensibility. As a result, there always seemed to be a dichotomy of two artistic approaches I was wrestling with. In order to create art I felt proud of, I had to learn to do what came natural. The answer was to let myself be an illustrator to allow for all my techniques to have free reign and present my displayable product as a resulting mix of all those elements. This meant changing tools, and creating my art in a way that allowed room for revision and recalculation before being finalized into a tangible object. It also meant conceptualizing my themes a little more aggressively. That way, the colours, arrangements and execution of the final art would best utilize my techniques to enhance the ideas behind them. I was searching for a way to take my thematic use of Pop Culture further, and I knew I couldn't do by adhering to one medium alone. As I've made these shifts, I feel myself improving upon my ability to personalize and rework my source material in a fresh and unique way.
Up until my last two projects, the majority of my past Pop Culture themed work was based around my love for classic rock and classic rock culture, and so the characters and personalities I was referencing were mainly musicians. Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Queen are icons I have tackled in the past...but in retrospect I acknowledge that my earlier paintings were only created from that material as a starting point. They were portrait exercises intended to test what my style might do with the material, while also trying to get further practice using that subject matter. I was playing with painting and what I could do with it, but sticking to that medium alone soon became too limiting. I was trying to be an impressionist, a pop artist and a graphic designer using only a paint brush on canvas. It didn't take long to realize that my work needed the inclusion of other materials and techniques if it was to improve and strengthen in the areas I wanted it to.
One additional area I felt was worth exploring within the Pop Culture theme, was my love of cinematic icons and films. My treatment of A Clockwork Orange was new territory for me, in terms of very specifically creating a piece of art based on a famous film. After considering the appeal of that project, I also considered what I had done with the subject matter to enhance the material and put my own spin on it. I decided to do a revision of another old piece using some new techniques, and that became my latest take on: CHAPLIN.
** CHAPLIN Mixed Media On Canvas- 36 x 48 Inches
** CHAPLIN- original painting (2015), 1st & 2nd draft
Stage 1- CHAPLIN- Old and new concepts. When I tackled CHAPLIN early last year, I was experimenting with new mediums, exploring a historical era (the 1920s and 1930s) which I have always found fascinating. My early take of CHAPLIN, was intended as a branch off my growing thematic exploration of film noir, while also representing one of my first projects that incorporated image and text into a fine art painting. I was never particularly satisfied with the outcome of the text, my use of colour, or my composition in the original, however, I thoroughly enjoyed CHAPLIN as a subject and was generally pleased with my initial portrait of him. I set out to take what I liked best about a discarded piece of art and reworked it so that it would better fall in line with my original vision, and be as engaging as possible. I created a new typeface and combined it with my old portrait in a 1st draft, and then later created a revised draft once I had completed the new portrait artwork.
** Design Elements for drafts and final art
Stage 2- Design elements: portrait, typeface and miscellaneous. As I began putting the pieces together for the final art, I felt that they could use some additional details to accent and highlight more aspects of Chaplin's character, and significance as a film icon. Charlie Chaplin was a writer, director, actor, performer and composer who had a career spanning over 75 years and who's impact and influence on the film industry, since the silent film era, still resonates today. I wanted to use the same an image of his most famous persona (The Tramp) as I had in my original concept. Also, I wanted to create a lively backdrop to make the image more elaborate, and aesthetically evoke an archival look and mood that would reflect the golden era of cinema. I felt that the stretching pose not only perfectly echoed Chaplin's humour, but also made him look the part as a visual symbol (almost like a statue or idol) of that time. The result was a combination of hand rendered portraiture and type/additional design elements, designed from the ground up in Photoshop. The typeface was loosely based on popular letterforms from Chaplin's golden era, and I later added a stylized border and an abstracted film reel pattern for the background, to dress up the composition and create a marquee vibe. The monochromatic scheme for the also serves the image, to give it a classic, tone.
Stage 3- Final Art. After creating a background that would leave room for both the portrait portion of the finished art as well as the typeface, I set myself to the task of connecting all the pieces together. What struck me about working on CHAPLIN this time around was how far I had come since my first attempt, and how thoroughly organic the process was recreating it. The mercurial twists and turns leading to the final art were exciting, challenging and liberating. The flexibility of adding, removing, reshaping and rearranging all the pieces that made up the final art were absolutely essential to bringing this project back to life.
I'm thoroughly pleased with the results of CHAPLIN this time around, and look forward to displaying this on social media and at future art shows. Just as my introduction to film noir style art last year eventually led to my first attempt at CHAPLIN, this project makes me look forward to revisiting the dramatic effect and style of the gangster era once again.
Many new projects on the way!