All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New blood, good beginnings, and returning to my roots.

Now that I am turning my attention back to making art, I felt a need to 'start something new,' to get some fresh ideas and new blood.
In the interim while I was 'inactive' so to speak, I spent a good amount of effort researching new reference material. I came across a mountain of interesting reference material (thank you, internet.) Some really fascinating stuff that will turn into really cool pieces down the road. More on that at a later date.
At the present, in many ways I am returning to my roots - which, of course, is portraiture and figure.
Four pieces have emerged, three distinctly different visions, three different approaches, and three separate processes.
Each one is distinct, yet what they all have in common is a crystal-clear vision of a simple, direct artistic statement, which is unique for each individual piece.
I am resisting the temptation to barge ahead, and enjoying the process of fully developing the ideas, cultivating a clear vision of where I am going with each step.

First, I have been wanting to do a new humorous celebrity portrait. Slash has a visual presence that is unmistakable. The distinctive angles and shape(s) of his face have a characteristic quality that, the more I researched, the more intriguing they became. And yet, in my research, I found very few caricatures that really seemed to zero in on this, let alone nail it. Most of the renditions I found simply missed the point, and missed the mark, of what I thought was obvious.
(Two of my favorites are the painting by Sebastian Kruger - of course it's brilliant - and an elegantly simple caricature by Tom Richmond, which is basically a black shrubbery with a cigarette, top hat and sunglasses. When you look at either of them , you immediately know it's Slash - no doubt about it. That's my goal for the piece, in addition to having fun.) 
 Seems like a good combination: a challenge, and intrinsically fascinating. So there you go - a perfect candidate for a humorous portrait.
While looking through photos, I was searching for the continuity, what was identifiable and consistent. Looking at hundreds of celebrity photos, and dozens of caricatures, and asking myself what was good in the rare examples - and what was wrong, or lacking, in the multitude of mediocre examples - I was able to find a few common threads that I could build upon.
The sketching for this was fun, and I quickly zeroed in on a concept, design, and point-of-view.
Slash - what a face.
And all that hair...
Plus he wears a top hat that's almost
exactly like the one I had in my
early days of rock & roll.

I have also really wanted to do some portraiture, which is my personal favorite. In my research, two reference photos just jumped out at me, and I listen to my intuition when something really grabs my attention.

When I saw this I thought
what a nice painting it would make.
I have not been able to track down
the name of the photographer...

The minute I saw this stock photo,
I knew what I wanted - I had a
crystal-clear vision of a
super-tight close up.

Finally, (although this was actually the first of the four pieces that I started,) for quite some time I have been harboring the desire to further explore the theme in Lady In White. I came across two reference photos and immediately knew how I wanted to combine them. It was on!
Two reference photos come
together. I even have a title:
The Message.

The common threads in all these pieces are listening to my intuition, cultivating a clear artistic vision for each piece, being patient and starting with a good start.
It's a good start... ;)

It's great to be making art again.
Well, I never really stop making art... something interesting is always percolating in my little ol' brain... That's one of the things about being an artist that's fun. :)

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