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life with busey

2010 December 27
by leslievrobertson

I was too busy during the actual semester to post as I went along painting my thesis, but, fortunately, I managed to photograph the process. Here are some of the steps that I took in painting my portrait of Gary Busey:

Even though this was my sixth in a series of paintings incorporating ribbons with text and such, this was the first time I actually bothered to fact check what “real” ribbons look like, as well as the first time I tried writing in cursive with a skinny gross-grain ribbon and an iron…made for some pretty cool reference (that I never bothered using when it came time to draw the thing).

Honestly, I rather like the liberties I was able to take in my version of the type, as I chose not to restrict myself to the angularity the steam iron imposed upon the real ribbon. Someday soon I will post a drawing of Steven Hawking that I did a few weeks ago in which I went the opposite direction—totally angular—which turned out pretty well, too.

(Sorry about how blurry this photo is, but my studio has pretty terrible lighting and I’m working with a camera phone here) Anyways…here is my under-drawing on acrylic-toned board. Feel free to laugh at the terrible state of his right hand.

And here we have an anatomical pink (or calamine, if you prefer) background laid in with acrylic. I liked the ridiculous contrast between the green and pink so much I almost left the lettering as-is at this stage. Pretty glad I didn’t do that. (Thanks, Will.)

And here is what I ended up with. I treated his suede blazer and shirt much more loosely than any of the clothing in the other paintings of this series, and it makes me wish I had done the same for the rest. Pretty much all of them existed in a very similar state at sometime in their progression, but I have a bad habit of over-finishing, and a lot of my work ends up looking a little stiff as a result. This jacket is now my reminder to stay loose and to not nitpick things that are working. And his right hand is my reminder that sometimes I really do need to spend the extra hours to make the anatomy look at least plausible, if not elegant.

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