I’ve received a commission to do a portrait of a young man, entering his senior year in high school. However, the father, Jim, has stipulated that he doesn’t want a portrait in the traditional sense of the word. He wants something that would stand alone as a work of art, itself, and to speak about who his son is. His son, Brandon, is a voracious reader, and though only seventeen years old, a talented writer who has already won a notable award from a newspaper. He’s also into video games, cinema, and comics. Jim said “please don’t put him in a cardigan, with a leatherbound book in his hand, and a tennis racket in his other hand. I want a real painting.” I can’t tell you how exciting it is to work with people that are this original.
Brandon has been alive for half as long as I have, and he’s read twice as many books, watched ten times as many movies, and read twenty times as many comic books. He’s really a fascinating young person, with a huge brain. He seamlessly melds together classical literature with pop culture, a common thread which I am always looking for. He comfortably jumps in conversation between Crime and Punishment, and the latest Marvel comic downloaded onto his Kindle. He then went on to explain corporate strategy in technology, vertical integration versus horizontal integration, as it pertains to the computer coding of droids versus apple technology. I was impressed, and lost. In speaking of movies, his thoughts range from Casablanca, to the Bike Thief, to the most recent horror flick. His loftiest dream is to be an actor, though he may want to write, perhaps be a journalist.
This painting presented itself to me. It’s a theme I’ve actually been thinking about for years now, that of a canvas being torn open, and somebody staring into it. Brandon is the perfect subject for the painting, from his pensive face, to his young age, brimming with optimistic curiosity.
Here the commission is, at three hours progress.