Last Friday was the launch of the redesigned Le Monde magazine, a weekly à la The New York Times Magazine.
In the past I had worked with Le Monde, but it was my first time for the magazine.
Cécile Coutureau, the art director, wanted me to work on two different portraits of Général De Gaulle; he passed away 40 years ago.
One was for the cover, that I should work in the same way than an Obama portrait ( see at the bottom) I’ve done for Newsweek, with a background reminding the french flag.
The other one was for the opener. There again the brief was quiet precise, the main idea was to show Le Général in a modern TV to create a contrast.
I have to admit, it was a bit of a challenge for me.
I do not feel like a good portraitist, I have to rely a lot on pictures, and if sometimes I take liberty with the likeness to get more the feeling of my usual characters ( see more samples at the bottom), it is more difficult to do so on a cover. It has to look alike.
The other thing was the modern device, the flat screen TV. Make it work with my archaic technic was not a sure winner.
Anyway, the whole process went pretty well, sketches were easily approved, just couple of changes for the shape of colors in the backround, and the kind of TV.
I did the final for the cover the day after, and the opener the following one.
The more realistic approach is less a problem for me now than it used to; I try not to forget the proportions and shapes I like to draw, but at the same time, I kind of enjoy to concentrate only on the painting technic, thanks to the photographic references.
(When I work on my non portrait projects, I barely use documents, so on top of the painting and colors, I have to battle with my weakness in drawing).
Everything got approved for three days. Then I got a call; I had to change the complete background for the cover. Too frenchie, too political.
French have a love and hate affair with their flag. You won't see anybody wearing a shirt with it, or put it in front of his house, or stick it on his Vespa…
So in the end, the background had to be blue, and only blue.
Finally, the whole project went to press and even got a Colonne Morris treatment.