5.09.2007

Acrylic Caricature

Each year the National Caricaturist Network has an international convention at a different location, where hundreds of artists gather, learn, workshop, attend seminars, compete and create amazing pieces of art for a week, straight (very little sleep). Almost three years ago, I was asked to contribute a commissioned piece to the auction- by which I'd complete a caricature in acrylic paint (similar to a sample I'd provided) of the winning bidder at the annual art auction. We have had a couple other artists do this, like Tom Richmond and David O'Keefe. The winning bid on my piece was placed by Patrick Harrington. He's a great artists who draws very gutsy and unique caricatures, and I was excited to do it.

Here's a look at the process. My friend Brian was nice enough to snap a picture after each important session I had with the piece, sometimes as much as 8 hrs. of work between each photo.

This is the reference that I chose. Pat sent me dozens of pics, preferring the "singing" pose, as he's in a Led Zeppelin cover band (and a damn good one, from what I hear). I liked that this was more of a crooning pose than a yelling pose, something that I'd seen Plant do from time to time, and less cliche' than a scream. I also liked the angle and the unique and descript anatomy around his mouth, chin and forehead. I'd noticed Pat's mouth and hair more often than anything, so this pic seemed right.


From there, I did a pencil sketch. I tried a couple quick thumbnails, but this was the first larger sketch I completed. It is roughly 6" tall. I planned on projecting this onto the illustration board, however I didn't have access to an opaque projector at the time, so I used a grid system (you may see the notches marked on the right of the sketch) which proved again to be time consuming (use a projector!). I like the life and vigor of the rough sketches and pencil work, so I have been recently using them more directly in my paintings.


After transferring the drawing onto the board (don't quite remember the size, but I think it's around 19" tall), A monochromatic brown painting is done to recreate the tones. Contrast and value is important, so I try to establish that early on so I have a good anchor for the rest of the color and detail. I have a bad habit of mixing white back into the brown and painting the hilights a bit thicker. This is okay, but something I got a little too detailed with in the nose/mouth/eye, as you can see. At this point, I'm ready to start applying some color.


I started very pinkish/purple, and built the color slowly. Patrick has a very pink, flushed complexion and I wanted that to come out... especially in the cheeks and chin, which stands out to me. This pic is about 1/2 way through the entire process.


This is the finished painting (click for a large view). I'm not sure it feels the same as the sketch did, to me, but I was generally pleased with the result. He requested a microphone and a hazy, smoky atmosphere, so they were roughly included. I also got to the end of his pendant and decided to leave it out.. I'm not sure why, but it made me chuckle, and was the first thing Pat noticed! I defninitely enjoyed the process, and am not sure if I like painting in oils or acrylic... I enjoy them both for completely different reasons. They cannot be treated similarly, and have benefits to themeselves that are very unique. Either way, I'm glad I had the opportunity to do this.

8 comments:

Dan said...

Thanks for that Joe, it's great to see your painting process!

Sagan Lacy said...

Really cool. Not having any formal painting education, I hadn't thought to do an underpainting for acrylics. Does that end up showing through to some extent in the final painting, or is it just so you can keep better track of what the result will be?

Joe Bluhm said...

I'd say it has to do with both, Sagan. I've seen artists approach it in many ways, but I feel an underpainting is just as valuable in Acrylic as any other medium.

ken said...

your work is an inspiration, thanks for sharing your process!

ken :D

Rick W said...

Joe,

This is AWESOME!!

Ryan Wood said...

WOW,Tremendous work!

LeftyJoe said...

i said Art...

(drum drum)...

huuugh....

good god....

what is good for

absolutely Joe Bluhm.

Kudos man, see you on the drawing board soon hopefully.

I'm a BIG fan btw.

Linda Coogan said...

i am a new fan as and fromtoday. im on that barrier where i am trying to cross over to caricature from real life portraiture and its difficult for me, indeedy, looking at your stuff, im so jealous,in a nicey way though! amazing work amazing (o;