December 16, 2011

Mr. Lee, Bruce Lee

I love Bruce Lee

I was commissioned to paint a 12 X 16 portrait of Bruce Lee for a friends father for his X-mas present.   I knew what I was going to paint because she selected an image for me to work from.  At first, I thought I'd do a black and white rendition and paint the background in a shiny gold. The finished piece will be mounted in thick black frame from Wal-Mart. I had to pick up a canvas panel that would fit her frame.

I know that I can make something beautiful in paint, but I wasn't sure how it would turn out.
I decided to try out a new technique and do an image transfer.  At the Emmedia X-mas party Melody J. at Fairytales was kind enough to print it out for me on her printer, in colour.   I ended up doing some photoshopping prior to get it to fit onto two 8.5" X 11" sheets of standard paper.  Then I covered the canvas board in clear primer, put the print face down and let it dry.  I used water to wash the paper off the back of the print allowing the ink to stay imbedded in the clear primer. I rubbed it down to make it look like an old movie poster from the days of Bruce Lee's film releases.
I clear coated the image to make sure it would stay fixed down. I then applied a wet wash of Burnt Umber to the entire image. I used a paper towel to wipe more of it away from the surface of the image transfer than the rest. The colour darkened the whites of the canvas. I then thickly applied a red background over the dark umber wash. At this pint I'm choosing red because it works as a great underpainting to gold in case I still apply it later on. I love how old its looking at this point, I want to keep it for myself.
Then I began to block in the painting starting with the darks. I outlined the drawing to help it to pop. I used brown washes and added back some yellows and high lights.  I used black Gesso for his hair and pants. I mixed iridescent silver with Paynes Grey for the shine on his pants. I used an iridescent gold, not for the background but for his skin. This changed my initial idea to have a gold background and solidified the next step, painting the red background for a third time to creating more depth and texture.

I am really proud how this piece turned out. Of course, I low balled to get the gig. But damn, she is getting a really nice piece of art!

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