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SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
Liberty Magazine AD Brian Gray called and asked if I would do an illustration about waterboarding.  The concept I was offered was a person being waterboarded but instead of a cloth over his face, an American flag.  Pretty good.

It's a natural swap of similar elements and is a strong graphic.  However, two things bothered me about it.  First, I think I had seen it a few times, perhaps it was an editorial cartoon, but it stuck in my head.  The second issue is what it meant.  I see the water as the 'bullet' more than the cloth.  The action is the water.
To have the water being poured onto the flag seemed visually like one was disrespecting the flag.  Perhaps that is part of the issue of waterboarding, that we are ruining our reputation.    I kept coming back to the action, the water.

I like working for Brian but this was an interior illustration, not paying as much as a cover and therefore if I were going to do it, I had to love it.
I did a sketch of the water being the flag instead.  There it is, old glory being used as a torture device.

Brian liked the sketch, which I did in about 10 minutes, so I was on.  His only comment was to come in a little more.

My finish is slightly different.  When the final came in to Brian, he had trouble seeing what was going on.  I didn't but I trusted his opinion.  I checked with a few of my fellow illustrators, sending them first the final, THEN the sketch.  They saw what was going on immediately, but after seeing the sketch they saw that the final might be less readable.  I did a few tweaks to the final and all is well.  

Thanks to Brian Gray for the assignment and patience and my illustration approval committee.

As for the topic, America should neverl torture.  Torture does not work even if Dick Cheney says it does (he's a liar).

United Nations Convention Against Torture, is:
...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.

I don't agree with him much, but as we all know, Senator John McCain, a former POW feels Waterboarding is torture.

When McCain tells someone that torture does not work, he knows what he is talking about.

My sketch done quickly was sent to the AD to see if he would go for my idea.  If he wanted his idea I might have passed on the assignment.  Once and a while I do this.  If the client is not into the idea we just shake hands and wait until next time.

However, I sent this photoshopped version of the sketch to work out the color and value and help the AD see the flag and what was going on.  As I say to my students all the time, do good sketches!

The first version after I painted it.  I added a nose bump, defined the chin and added a shoulder and arm to improve it for the final.

It was hard to figure this out in a realistic piece.