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Method and Madness: About the Art and Artist

A word first for the folks who don't like what I do: move on. You don't get it. This isn't a technical exercise, it's an emotional exercise. That's what art must have in it to separate it from just another pretty picture - emotion. I don't want to make a cold copy of what everyone else sees. I want to make a lively version of the truth I see and can share with my audience. If you don't want to be part of the audience, move along.

For the rest of you, I hope I can give you something you can really enjoy and use to enrich your life. The money spent is equal to or less what you could spend on a find dinner for two, but an image such as this won't be down the pipes tomorrow. Maybe you have the dinner and commission an image to remember the moment. That works best for me and your local restaurant industry.

Finding the Right Picture

If you want me to work for you, please let me make a request.

Don't stand parallel to the lens and then look directly at the camera while forcing a smile.

That's just wrong.

Put a little pizzazz into the image, and I don't mean wear a bikini and go back to the unimaginative pose described above.

Tilt your head, look in another direction, turn your head, do something. Copy a pose from a cool ancient sculpture. Copy a pose from a really cool magazine ad. When you copy the pose, copy the expression.

Sometimes, you don't smile. Placid faces are great to work with. In fact, there should be lots more photographs of people not smiling like crazies on happy pills. Be calm, be serene, be peaceful: those make for great pics. Ever see Mona Lisa? Great expression and pose on that person.

Don't worry about the background. I can get one from all around the world in a jiffy. Or, I can go with a solid color or pattern. Whatever, something like that. Just don't worry about the background, it's always fixable.

Don't worry about any zits or warts you don't want in the picture. I leave those out.

If you can get good lighting, we can have some fun with the shadows, if you'd like.

Remember, this is art. You're allowed to have fun with it. Relax. Let yourself feel natural and comfortable. Find places you love, get comfortable, and let the camera record your honest happiness.

Play around with a digital camera, take 300 pictures, and select the pick of the litter for my consideration.

Just be sure you vary the poses, so you have something to choose from. If you don't, you'll see 300 reasons why I made my request further up on the page.

OK. I got the pictures. Now what?

This is where I get to work. Let me describe what I do in a sort of step-by-step process.

Step One. I get the pictures.

Here's my good friend Michele in a picture. It's not a bad picture, but it's by no means the best one. That's OK. It's a raw material I'm going to use to create the commission. I use the image to make an initial sketch and proceed in one of five basic directions. When I make my sketch, I begin my interpretation of your image and make decisions about what to leave in and what to leave out. I want to create a truth, but oftentimes I have to leave aside some of the surface reality to reveal what truth lies beneath. I may change the expression slightly or the direction you may have focused your eyes. That's what artists do.

In my original sketch of Michele, I left out the menu in front of her arm. See? Art!

Step Two. I do what you want me to do to it.

Like I said, I've got five basic directions I run with when I do portraits my way. You liked at least one of them, which is why you asked me to do one for you.

One style is a monochrome color scheme. I use browns in this one and I like the feel with it. If you want another color, like reds, blues, purples, or even fuschias, I'm here to provide. The monochrome portrait has its inspiration in some graphics I'd seen from the late 60's and 70's in avant-garde comic books, particularly from France. There's a certain dream-like feel to these images, something you won't get in a photorealistic image.

Another way for me to go is in the style of Patrick Nagel. Somehow, he found the right shade of white and purple to work with to make some excellent skin tones. Sure, they're abstract, but, wow, they really pop. I combine this with 80's-style pastels and maybe even a new hairdo and geometric earrings. I didn't do that here, but I did keep the traditional black hair color. I could also go with bolder colors, but the pastels work best here.

I could also do a straight black and white image. For this one, I included a background. Some people preferred this image without the background. That's cool by me. I can print it out either way, thanks to the computer. It allows so much more flexibility and adaptability in creating images. It makes it much more possible to have fun.

The 70's-era psychedelic rainbow is another popular style, even for people born after 1973. This style conveys a lot of energy and feels strangely alive. The monochrome has a calmer feel to it. This dream is anything but calm.

The last way to go is full-color with a complete range of skin tones. I can go with dreamy hair, as I do here, or with more realistic hair, whichever you're willing to have me do. In this image, I've used a stock background in a montage with the drawing. If you have a specific background you want me to use, I'll draw and color it as per your requests.

This is all real work with real technique. I'm not punching a button and getting an effect to do any of these pictures. Each one of these takes time to do right, and that's why they're not for $10 or $20 a pic.

There are those who will run your photos through graphics filters for that kind of money and, sure, why not? I'll take a cut of that action, if you want me to. Take a look at the original picture after a filter or two:

The first one went through an "oil painting" filter. If you can't tell the difference from the original photograph, then that just shows you how much more accurate the computer can be than any human when it comes to photo-realism. When it's enlarged, you can see the brushstrokes, but that makes it just look like a $400 oil painting, not like a $6000 one. It would take about another hour of work to make it look like a $6000 picture some guy spent 12-20 hours working on with real paints and stuff.

The second one is heavily airbrushed. Any skin or hair problems are GONE, but the menu's still there. I could get it out, but it would cost you, and I'd much rather spend the time making art, not faked photos.

Art. What Is It Good For?

All right, I agree. You can't eat it, can't wear it, can't pay The Man his rent with it, and you can't make your glasses spotless with it.

So why buy art?

It's good for you.

Imagine being able to look up and see truth and beauty any time you wanted. And not some generally-available truth and beauty, but some one-of-a-kind action you've got a lock on. It makes your heart do a little dance when you see that wonderful thing on the wall, done all for you - especially for you.

Or how about your loved one getting a gift that neither fades nor wastes away? It's a gift for the anniversary, the engagement, the wedding, the birthday... or maybe just because it's time you did something really special. Then the moment truly lasts the rest of your life every time you see it.

Some want to ease their soul in a special memory, like in the image at the start of this section. It's a truly wonderful thing.

I'm here to help provide so much more than a pretty picture.

For the cost of the image, you get so much long-lasting value for your money. Whether you're looking forward to the rest of your life, caught up in the middle of it, or reflecting on your world, art is there to make the experience of life sweeter and the heart beat more peacefully.

Art is chocolate for the eyes.

So go on, have a little art in your life. It's not self-indulgent. It's self-affirming.

Somewhere in your photos, there is beauty, and I will prove it to you if you hire my services.

Art. It's good for you.

You can be next!

Send me email if you're interested in having a consultation about doing something wonderful for you or someone you want to do something special for.

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