Last week, Joe Heroun and Christine Car asked me to paint Rick Perry for the cover of The New Republic. It was especially exciting to work on this because I have strong personal feelings about the prospect of Mr. Perry becoming President and they seemed to be in line with the sentiments the cover needed to convey.
Ok, it's a little over the top, but I liked this variation...but it just wasn't right for the article...
...perhaps a little TOO strong. My first ideas, represented here by this image, went a little farther than was right for the article, which was about Perry's background. Still, I liked this one...I have to admit that in the back of my head was Steve Brodner's great caricature of Perry- I wanted to try to make something as strong, in my own way...
My first sketch. My wife Lynn said "he looks like a werewolf...I like it!"
my next sketch- The candidate, down in West Texas.
Joe said it needed to have a West Texas setting, as Perry's background was the focus of the cover article. He also said he should not be in a suit- my first instinct was to fight this direction, but first I fiddled around with it and realized that it actually could make the piece work better, and by making the "casual" shirt have an exageration of the oversized, starchy type of collar that Perry favors, it somehow makes the picture work.
Because I work pretty fast, I don't often have a chance to photograph paintings "in progress"...but I did shoot this one after I got started and blocked Perry's face in. you can see that the only compositional change from here in is that I shifted his shoulders around a bit as I went along.
Even though the painting is very much in a warm yellow pallate, having a more naturalistic underpainting gives the picture some life...
The finished art as delivered. Though I tape off the edges and put crop marks on the art, I put in precise digital cropmarks on the final file.
As it appears on newsstands...
...my sketches and finished art before they go in a file drawer.
I was a little concerned that Perry's rapid fall from tea party grace (ironically more as a result of his percieved compassion for illegal alien children than his terrible debate performance) might keep him off the cover. but he made it.
I never had a chance to do much editorial political illustration before I was on Drawger, which I think has exposed me to a circle of people outside the book publishers I have spent most of my career working with. I don't honestly know whether it's because more people see my work or because being around all these great artists has made me step up my game- probably a combination of the two. Either way, I owe a lot to Drawger and everyone on it.
My wife called me in to the house to show me that my cover was being shown on MSNBC accompanying an interview with cover article author Alec MacGillis.
My life seems to have always been organized around the school year- as a student, later as both a parent and teacher. The summer always seems be a period at a different pace and purpose... this summer was one of milestones passed- for friends and family whose lives are intertwined with mine.
Following the events of May, we decided to pay a visit to our daughter Victoria in Chicago, where she is Urban Wildlifre Research Coordinator at the Lincoln Park Zoo.Just before we left I took on a cover assignment from Joe Heroun and Christine Car for the New Republic about "the Battle for Obama's brain" about Obama's advisors being torn between left and right-wing idealogies. I did all the preliminary work on this illustration in Chicago in Victoria's guest bedroom using random art supplies and a laptop.
I had wanted to go for an extremely chaotic rendering of Obama and made some wild sketches, all of which I liked, but soon I realized these were wrong for the tone of the story...
I then tried making sketches with a ball point pen and digital color....
Sometimes an illustrator works in parallel with the development of the story, and this was the case here. The story became less about the idealogical conflict and so I needed to focus more on the expression of Obama...
I still had two days.The story had developed more into Obama's frustrations rather than being torn between ideologies- before I left Chicago, I did this sketch and it was approved...
The final oil painting. I painted this in one sitting the day the final art was due.There was a time when deadlines like this would freak me out, but nowadays I seem to have a pretty good grip on what I can do within a given period of time. In the final, the idea is sort of a companion piece to an earlier NR cover I did of Obama facing the heat to come in his presidency- here he turns away from it.
Lynn and William
After Obama we made a quick trip to Southern Calif. for our son William's college graduation. After a workshop in Fresno with, among others, the Chronos Quartet, he came home to prepare for graduate school...
A sketch for a cover for a novel about an individual who lives under a psychological delusion involving the old west. This is probably my favorite piece iv'e done recently. Unfortunately, this idea wasn't chosen...I still like it.
I was excited to get a call from Jason Treat, who commissioned an illustration which appeared in The Atlantic, imagining an alternative universe in which Sarah Palin could be considered a legitimate statesman on the world stage. Upon publication this illustration, in which I was trying to subliminally channel Goya, touched a right-wing nerve, and when political bloggers Joe Maginnis and Andrew Sullivan picked up on the story, I found myself at the center of a mini controversy which almost crashed the servers at the Atlantic and elsewhere. I still don't know what to make of the whole thing, but for a few days I had a hefty dose of internet celebrity wierdness.
Over the summer I did manage to cleanse my mind with occasional, but infrequent trips to paint outdoors...
near alpine lake
live figure painting, 3 hrs.
When I can find the time, which is far less often than I would like, I try to go to a weekly life painting session.
For some crazy reason I decided that I really needed to tear off the side of the house and put in a new window. That kept me busy for a while...
Recognising my window project to be a cry for help, Brian Stauffer invited me to a Giant's v. Phillies game. All season the Giants haven't hit, but they did that night....actually, relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez hit Shane Victorino and pretty soon everybody was hitting everybody in a classic bench clearing brawl.
A book cover for the re-issue of "Where the Broken Heart Still Beats" the true story of a young woman was captured as a child by Comanche Indians, and her inability to adapt back to "civilization" upon her forced return 25 years later. Carol Chu, art director
An illustration about a Salvation Army angel . AD Olga Jakim, Guideposts
A couple of Westerns for Penguin....
Overarching all of this was Victoria's wedding at the end of the summer, which we put on ourselves here in Point Reyes. It was a great day!
One day after the wedding William left for grad school in music comoposition at NYU.
The last event of the summer is Kazu's Memorial event, where i will be speaking this weekend. Summer is over, school is in session, and life goes on, within you and without you, while we are busy making other plans.