Saturday, March 10, 2012

"We're All Free" - A Portrait of Abraham Lincoln

Do you ever wonder where you get inspiration - ideas that compel you to create?
I'm new to Richmond, Va. When I arrived, the Spielberg people were all over downtown - the capital area filming a movie about Lincoln. Lincoln seemed to be everywhere - galleries propped paintings of the president out front, Lincoln stuff everywhere...Lincoln fever.
I chatted with my niece who told me she had a "thing" for the president - her husband thinks she has a crush on him...and then I looked at the mini poster hanging in my studio of Lincoln... and thought. Why not.

Silly me, I thought creating a portrait of the 16th President would help me "fit in" in my new surroundings.

I grabbed an image online, a canvas and started the process. A lot of people who see my work ask me HOW I do what I do, so I'm sharing through photos. I took pics at every step of the way in the process - from the seat in front of the easel.

<-----Here you can see the image and my starting point. I draw with pencil and then start filling in with paint. I don't always paint, unless I really need to see how shadows are going to play. The green was the original idea... it changed later.
And here, is the painting done. I didn't paint a background. ----->

<---Idea generation - let's put a "flag" design in the background. I started with red. Originally, I was going to fill the entire background with photos of random people.
Now, I drew a circle...a "halo" --->
around Lincoln's head and added white and blue stripes, following the curves of the red stripes - within the halo.  Cutting all those little pieces of paper was really hard.

<---I added a "stripe" of people above and below the white and blue stripes.
And here, I filled in the halo's --->
background with sky blue pieces. And, I started on the shirt, and the tie. The tie is made up of pieces from my Dentist's appointment reminder postcards. I'm telling you, I save everything paper.

<--- I was a little stumped here. I decided to make the entire background sky blue - to have the halo just floating behind.
I used a variety of grey shades ---> of paper to fill in Lincoln's face. Most of them have text, but some are just texture - there is a lot of time and effort made to sort all of the junk mail in grey into shades, making sure all the tones are right.

<--- I wasn't totally happy with the
blue. I wanted to make it more homogeneous. So, I added some random shapes of blue tissue to tie it together.
And then some random white  ----->
tissue on top of the blue pieces. It's hard to see in the photo.

<---I used greys for shadows in grey for the hair, beard and coat. It didn't make sense to make this composition even MORE complicated or busy, the black also mimics the original resource photograph. I cleaned up ---->
the paint, details and coated the entire thing with a water-based lacquer. And now, it's done and looks like this!

We're All Free

I was trying to get this done in time for President's Day, but things don't always go to plan...
as any artist will tell you. The reason I added all the little people - of all colors, ages, shapes and sizes within Lincoln's halo - is to represent the President's dedication to Emancipation. and his belief in freedom for all people.
We're All Free

  • As always, my art work is all hand done, mosaic "tiles" are created by upcycling a variety of paper - from junk mail to calendars to postcards, etc. All materials used are water-based, acid-free and non-toxic. For more information, please visit my web site.
  • While I was working on this piece, I kept humming a song from the musical "Hair"
 "Four score
I said four score and seven years ago
Oh sock it to 'em baby, you're sounding better all the time!
Our forefathers, I mean all our forefathers
Brought forth upon this here continent a new nation
Conceived, conceived like we all was
In liberty, and dedicated to the one I love
I mean dedicated to the proposition
That all men, honey, I tell you all men
Are created equal.

Happy birthday, Abie baby,
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday, Abie baby,
Happy birthday to you!"
You can listen here -[Happy Birthday, Abie Baby] [warning, some very explicit language]

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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