Looking back at October ’03’s output, I am struck by how many nice pieces there are that I did in this 30 day period. This piece above for US Catholic magazine, was one of my favorite pieces of the year. I was asked to do a portrait of Mel Gibson to go with an article about his new film ‘The Passion of the Christ’, and I chose to do a homage to a famous rennaisance painting of one of the saints being inspired to write the gospels. Mel wasn’t an easy likeness to capture, but once I found the right angle it seemed to fall into place. I love doing these ‘aping another artist’s style’ projects, as it is a good exercise in learning how other artist’s think. Taking apart their color schemes, and layouts, yet interjecting a little of yourself into them. I contemplated doing a little faux ‘crackelature’ into the image, to emulate an old painting, but it sort of took away from the image, so I abandoned the idea. I did this one in digital watercolors, since I wasn’t yet familiar with the ‘oil paints’ tools in my software program.
Another fun project I had this month, for Newsday, also involving portraiture, was this piece on George Bush and his ‘leakage’ problems, in which he is compared to Dick Nixon. I had the idea of a reflection in the pool of basement water where George sees his reflection as Nixon. Only the second time I’ve had to draw Nixon, at least in my professional career. He was my artistic inspiration as a boy during the Watergate mess, and I cut my drawing teeth doing caricatures of the man.
A ‘puzzle page’ illustration for Oddysey magazine (Cobblestone) offered me a chance to do another fun piece, this time for other reasons. During the summer of ’03 and the previous year, we had started to become interested in sailing and had taken lessons and chartered a boat in northern Michigan the summer before. We were starting to get ‘boat fever’ and one of the boats we had our eye on made it into this illustration (it had a very ornate nameplate on the back and an exposed rudder). We didn’t end up buying that boat, but a different one the following summer, but I still remember this one quite vividly as the ‘one that got away’.