For this style of portraiture I thought about how when die our physical bodies leave but our words remain in the minds of those we interacted with. I wanted to visually create this idea, that our words replace or perhaps transcend our physical form and allow us to still be seen and experienced after we're gone.
I have included a few snapshots I took while painting the Tupac portrait. Regrettably I was so focused on painting that I didn't take many process photos.
How They Were Made
Step 1: I began these paintings by gluing old newspaper articles and other paper memorabilia relevant to the subject's life onto a canvas. I then stained the paper background with acrylic paint.
Step 2: To create the faces I began painting directly on top of the collaged background. I roughly blacked out a silhouette of the subject and then began painting the lettering, I started by painting all the letters in a shadow color, a deep red in the Tupac portrait pictured. The words used are from the portrait subjects, they are made up of song lyrics song titles, or quotes.
Pictured below you can see early stages of the painting process.
Step 3: From there I worked my way from the shadows to the highlights making small marks of color on the lines of each letter. until the face emerged.
Below you can see the portrait moving further along as the mid-tones and highlights began to fill in.
Step 4: Once the lettering was done I used a palette knife to scrape in any parts of the portrait not made by letters such as hair, clothing, and parts of the body such as Tupac's chest or Picasso"s hand. This gave the portraits a rough look that I wanted them to have.
In the photo below you can see how the portrait looked right before I began scraping in paint to finish the neck and chest. I also ended up having to go back over the letters to add in more shadows. As you can see here I added way to much of the highlight layer.
Below is the finished Tupac portrait after scraping in the body and adjusting the values on the lettering to better form the face. I also added more staining and scraped paint to the background. Once the paintings were dry I covered each canvas entirely in epoxy resin to permanently encase the collage and painting under a hard glassy surface.
Below are the four other portraits I made in this series. Click to view in full screen. Close up detail images of these pieces can be found in the WORK section of this site.