My husband Sean should be credited for art directing one of my latest paintings. Sean suggested that I merge my love of portraiture with my abstracted "squares" style in one single painting. I liked the idea but going into it, I was a little confused as to how I would actually execute the concept.
I had already drawn a previous portrait of Barack Obama on a 3' x 4' canvas last year, but decided to go with a larger 4' x 5' canvas for the Oh Bama portrait. I started this new portrait with the background first, which is usually where I start a figurative portrait. The background of this piece is a series of squares of varying sizes using pinks and golds. It was a good start.
Next I tackled his hair. The background squares were mostly black--matte and shiny. The overlapping squares were completely multi-coloured. Still happy with it.
Creating the webwork of squares and patterning for Obama's face was kind of daunting. I started drawing the outlines of sort of feather shapes all over his forehead in a multitude of colours. I created the background squares of his mouth in shades of red and pink with multi-coloured squares over top. Filling in the top layer of squares over his entire face was painstaking and very time consuming. It's really difficult for me to judge the end result of "drawing with squares" while I am painting--I'm just too close to the physical canvas.
When I had finished the final layers of colour, I moved the painting and put it on the mantel and stood back. Nope, it wasn't right. The mouth, hair and background were too separate--it didn't read as one large piece but that of a piece made up of pieces. Are you following me?
I realized that I had to do another layer of squares blending all the separate parts together. Yes, that was it. Now, while viewing the piece up close it just looks like another abstract piece. The beauty of that piece is seeing it from a distance. From a distance you can tell that it is a large face. What kills me is that everyone who has seen it recognizes it as Obama. Wow. Pretty cool.
3'w x 4'h
acrylic on canvas
I decided not to name the piece anything that would lead the viewer to think (or know) it was a portrait of Barack Obama. Since the piece is made up of thousands of tiny pieces that make the portrait look "pixelated", I went with the name Pixels.
This piece and After Winter Must Come Spring will both be included in a group show to be held at Gallery Hittite on Scollard St. in Toronto for the month of June. More on that later.
Thanks Sean...it was a great idea. Personally, I think it's my best work to date.