I've come to really enjoy doing portraits. Like all the things I enjoy the most they present just the right amount of challenge- difficulty to capture the subject's likeness is usually the crux of the struggle, though essence is often missing even after likeness is nailed down. Sometimes changing a pose of a setting will give the drawing life anew. In portraiture I find that one must stay light on their feet and not fall in love with any mark he makes- it's not there until it's there.
So far I've yet to do a portrait of any of my favorite performers. Dylan is one whose contribution to popular music and culture I fully understand and embrace, but I've never been able to foster an appreciation for his vocal affect. In fact, I find it so singularly grating it's kept me from delving into his canon altogether. Despite my personal feelings about his work I was excited to receive this commission simply because the man has a great face and the comic absurdity of his late-career costumes appeals to my sense of humor. Still, I had no interest in (nor was I hired to produce) a caricature. I wanted my portrayal to be as reverent as I could muster regardless of my own impressions of the man and his music.
I've written before (although I can't remember where) about my fondness for my selection of Childcraft Encyclopedias from the middle 1960's. Once again these were called to mind and used as a point of reference when I went from sketch to final art. The cyan/black combination is deeply lodged in my creative consciousness although I can't begin to suggest why it is so. It is the very essence of nostalgic charm to me and I've never been able to capture it effectively before. In the Dylan piece I think it works satisfactorily.
This portrait for The Christian Science Monitor, a review of BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA by Sean Wilentz.
AD John Kehe and I hoped to evoke a New Orleans streetscape here, a nod to Dylan's fondness for music that is uniquely American.