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the mad bomber (underpainting) | oil on panel

Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! – Dr. Suess

It’s Hunert Faces time. And here’s an underpainting for another portrait in the project. If you’re even kind-of-sort-of interested in participating in the project, stick around for a moment. If you’re positive it’s not your thing, see you next time.

In doing this project, aside from photo submissions, I’ve received a number of messages or comments from people who want to play the game, but need a direction. I get it. Sometimes too much freedom can be stifling. Sometimes creativity needs limits in order to blossom. Sometimes we need to be pointed in a direction so that we can cut loose and run.

The idea of this project is to paint one-hundred portraits that are creative and/or interesting. I know that “creative” and “interesting” are debatable terms, and (if you’re just tuning in) some of my thoughts on that begin here. But let’s assume we’re on the same page with all that and you just need some ideas to goose that imagination in it’s ample behind and get it moving. Here are four different ways to get started.

Start with a prop. Put it next to another prop. Between two things and a person, you probably have a story. Throw another person in the mix and you have all kinds of interesting. The painting Marriage, began with two people and a mask. Grab a cat and add a Mexican luchador mask and you have Yo Habría… Two people at a costume party made Día de los Muertos. Find two interesting objects and you’ve probably found a painting. Handcuffs and tea kettle. A feather boa and seven cigarettes. A Bible, a bullwhip, and a pair of opera glasses. A mask (or a hat) and almost anything else. All paintings waiting to happen.

Start with words. The painting above, The Mad Bomber, came about by focusing on the phrase itself. The phrase, “Chasing the Dragon” inspired the painting, which popped into my head while reading about the Chinese Year of the Water Dragon. This year is the Year of the Snake (is that feather boa making another appearance?). The Last Temptation, Iron Maiden, The Godfather, A Bird in the Hand, A Bird on a Wire, Some Like it Hot, Childhood, Parenthood, Divorce, Infidelity, Terror Alert: Orange, Agent Orange, Orange Crush, A Crush, The Crush, Crushed, Yadda Yadda, Ad Nauseam. You can run with this forever. But for all of us, a different image just came to mind – all of them with the potential to be a painting.

Start with a person. Of course, you can build the image around a certain someone, but I also think of it as “Start with a character.” And make it interesting. Mother of the Year may not be a mother at all. The Pilot may be the guy with the aviator sunglasses and an empty bottle of scotch passed out on the table. The Gardener. The Graduate. Put an adjective in front of it and see what happens. The Vicious Saint. The Viscous Saint. The Vociferous Saint. Now try a verb. Run, Forrest. Run.

Steal from someone. I’ll save all the famous sayings and cliches for another day. But what I’m saying is, if you like the Sistine Chapel, take it and head in a different direction. A fan of The Last Supper? Come up with your own version. Love Gustav Klimt? I’m sure you have your own idea for Judith II (Salome).

Okay, there’s some direction. Need more? Here’s one: a person holding a lasso and one end of the rope is a noose around the neck. It’s been swinging in my head, but I’m not sure what to do with it. Something about an artist and his big projects and playing around sans limits. Run with it.

If you’re still stuck, let me know.

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