24 May 2010

Preparing for William Shakespeare and Kurt Vonnegut to Arm Wrestle...

Here is a preliminary ink sketch for a painting request from Greg Bauhof. Greg asked for a painting of William Shakespeare and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr arm wrestling... with Einstein as the referee. I'm probably one of the few people on Earth who would respond to this with a simple "sure". After doing this project for more than a year now, I feel like I've been around the unusual request block more than a few times.

I'm approaching this painting as a novelty piece, like dogs playing cards or Teddy Roosevelt Goat Charging up San Juan Hill ... or a Panda Licking on a Light Bulb. I have no problem making novelty pieces (obviously). There's nothing wrong with getting pleasure from something absurd. But as a challenge, I still try to put some kind of beauty into them, add an extra layer.

As you can see, I haven't figured out the background yet. Greg suggested blackness with light coming from a single hanging light source. I may go that way. It would certainly add a baroque sense of drama. That kind of theatrical lighting worked for Caravaggio on more than one occasion. (Not to mention numerous panthers on velvet.)

I also feel like I need to come up with a narrative for this... and I don't buy the arm wrestling in the after life thing. Too easy. There must be a historical context that would make sense here. I'll have to put my "revisionist historian" cap on and investigate.

... and I'll post the painting with the story in the next few days...

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