Sunday, February 22, 2009

Good luck, Heath

Tonight is the Oscars, and now we get to see if my prediction comes true. Will Heath Ledger get an Academy Award for his work as the Joker in the Dark Knight?

Celebrations tomorrow...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Creating Darwin's Portrait

To continue the celebration on Charles Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his Origin of the Species, I've posted the process of the creation of my portrait of Darwin.

I thought that this would be a challenging piece to do, as I haven't done many portraits of actual people. But the question was which "form" or age should I portray Darwin in? I have always loved the idea of a young and adventurous Darwin sailing uncharted waters on the HMS Beagle, exploring the harsh and beautiful land in search of new animals, plants and fossils...

So I chose the water-colour portrait painted by George Richmond in the late 1830s as a starting point. I really didn't have a plan for this painting. I made a few thumbnail sketches, but no base drawing or anything.

(Yes, I am painting on newspaper on the ground. Acylics on white poster paper) At this point, I had ideas of adding a bunch of fossils behind him, but it didn't seem quite right. After a few days of ponder, I thought about showing Darwin in multiple stages of his life: childhood, youth, and old age. Kinda an evolution of Darwin the man.

So I added the old-age form of Darwin from a photo I took of his statue in his birthplace, Shrewsbury. I tried to keep all the colour out of it, as the older form represents a "ghostly future" for the youthful Darwin.

To complete the "Dawin life-cycle" triad, I added the man as a child - based on this public domain painting of him as a seven-year-old. Does anyone know who painted it? Actually, I feel the child in my painting looks too old and kinda scary! Yikes...

With the three Ages of Darwin represented, I wanted to fill the rest of the space with the HMS Beagle crashing in. I used a few references of ships similar to the Beagle to get the form. Still lots of work to do. (As Glendon would put it, this is the "ugly phase" of the painting...)

Practically finished, lots more detail on the Beagle, but the central Darwin face is still missing. And it looks like the ship is crashing into the head of child-Darwin! Oh no!

With the added white face to the central Darwin and small details throughout, it seemed finished enough to present it on Darwin Day. But I am far from completely happy with it - middle-Darwin's face seems very flat, the child-Darwin is just too creepy (Children of the Corn...) and the painting does not convey Darwin's work (evolution, fossils, South American critters). But I love the way the old-Darwin and the Beagle turned out.

The 'Evolution' of Darwin

So there it is - the making of my Darwin Portrait for Darwin Day 2009. If you have any insight to help me improve it, please comment below!

Happy Darwin Day (and Valentine's Day as well!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Portrait to Celebrate Darwin's 200th Birthday

Happy Darwin Day everyone,
My gift to Charles Darwin on his 200th anniversary is a humble portrait to a great man.

The 'Evolution' of Darwin
(acrylics on white posterboard)

This portrait attempts to show Darwin in three of his stages in life: as a seven-year-old boy in 1816, a young man in 1836, and in old age in 1868. The H. M. S Beagle is shown in the background. I will elaborate on the creation of this painting and on the original paintings I have based these Darwins on in my next post.

I don't feel it is finished yet. I still want to add a few things, fossils... I will continue on this one. Anyway, to all my friends in the web, happy Darwin Day!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Coming Soon: Blog for Darwin

Charles Darwin is turning 200 on February 12th, 2009. His bicentennial is in ten days, and to celebrate his birthday, I will be participating in the online blog carnival - Blog for Darwin.

The party will take place from Feb. 12 to Feb. 15th, with bloggers, scientists, artists and educators celebrating a giant of science. Check out the Blog for Darwin site for more information and to participate!

My contribution to the fun will be something inspired by my talented artist blog friend Glendon - his painting of Darwin "Darwin Took Steps." A portrait of the naturalist, but as a younger man. Now I have only just begun, and the final result might be something else (isn't Art amazing?) but it will be my tribute to the man!