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.