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A Milestone

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on March 27th, 2009 in Mask Paintings

For those of you keeping score at home, this is the 100th painting in my mask series. I knew I was getting close and took a “head” count a couple of weeks ago. I already had designs for my next few paintings at the time and knew which order they were going to be attempted – so this particular  mask was not necessarily chosen for this honor – he just happened to be the next in line at the right time.

When I mentioned to my friends CJ and Carla that I was working on my 100th painting they suggested I name it One Hundred. Not wanting to be quite that obvious, I started dwelling on derivatives of 100 for a couple days until the word “Centurion” came to mind. I went to the dictionary and knew right away I had the name. In the Roman Legion, a Centurion was the leader of a Century – or 100 men (it was later revised to 80 men).

The face of the mask in “Centurion” is from a Hawaiian Tiki bottle opener given to me by my friend Ian. I am including a photo of it in this post along with the painting. As is my prerogative, I took a few artistic liberties. I experimented with a different combination of paint colors and am very happy with the results. My palette for this one was Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Green Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Payne’s Grey and Titanium White. As you can see there is no blue in this palette, which is a first for me – ever. (For you purists out there, I know Payne’s Grey has Ultramarine Blue in its formula – but you know what I mean.) Check it out and let me know what you think…

Centurion – 20″x16″ – Acrylic on Canvas – Completed 3-25-09

©2009, Don Michael, Jr.

Stimulus Package

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on March 23rd, 2009 in Mask Paintings

While a few assholes are laughing all the way to and from the bank the rest of us are hanging on for dear life hoping to ride out the current economic storm.

Once again I textured the heck out of the underpainting on this latest work with my natural sponge and a light modeling paste. I then used several flat bristle and sable brushes to bring out the composition. The texture made painting the details in the hands and mask quite a challenge, but I needed such to get thru the angst I was feeling as I created this one.

I’m keeping this post short and letting the image speak for itself. I hope my pissedoffedness shows thru loud and clear.

Stimulus Package – 20″x24″ – Acrylic on Canvas – Completed 3-19-09

©2009, Don Michael, Jr.

Springtime in the City

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on March 15th, 2009 in Mask Paintings, Palette Knife Paintings

People experiencing a big city for the first time have every one of their senses stimulated in new ways. The lights, the tall buildings, the cacophany of sound, the smells and the seemingly limitless things to do all create a sense of awe. I try to keep that feeling when I go to The Strip here in Las Vegas, as well as when I travel to other cities. I still look up – I don’t care if local snobs then associate me as a tourist. There’s too much to see and experience to let their preconceived notions affect my enjoying the sights and sounds. I love a bustling, living, breathing city. You might even say I’m “Enamored” of the city.

In my most recent painting I wanted to express that sense of the first moment of experiencing a city. The highly reflective surface of this Venetian mask was a perfect fit with the suggestion of lights in the background. Choosing a low angle point of view for the mask gave me the opportunity to make it appear to be looking up. It’s a fun challenge to create the illusion of these eyeless masks “looking” in a direction. As I painted the background I made sure to angle the strokes and colors to create a feeling of motion and energy.

I went back to the palette knife on this piece. There is no brushwork and I backed off on the texture that I’ve been experimenting with of late. I just wanted to mix-and-smear for this one, and that’s exactly what I did. And a fun thing it was…

Enamored – 30″x24″ – Acrylic on Canvas – Completed 3-14-09

©2009, Don Michael, Jr.

Textured Into a Corner

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on March 9th, 2009 in Mask Paintings

Well, I think I’ve finally found my threshold when it comes to texture. For my most recent painting I went nuts with the light molding paste in creating my undercoat. The texture had so much variation with so many peaks that it was almost impossible to paint a representational image on it. But, being ever so tenacious (at least when it comes to painting), I stuck it out and am pretty pleased with what came of it. You can get a sense of the texture in the scan, but you have to see it in person to realize what I was working with/against…

This mask has a beautiful, yet sad countenance about it. I wanted to include her in my Greek gods and goddesses series so I went looking for the saddest Greek heroine I could find and rediscovered Antigone(pronounced an-‘ti-ga-nē). She was unlucky enough to have been a major character in the tragic and twisted story of Oedipus. Check it out, you’ll be scratching your head wondering what the heck these Greek storytellers were all about… Anyway, please welcome “Antigone” into the series. I hope you enjoy…

Antigone – 10″x8″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 3-8-09

©2009, Don Michael, Jr.

Riding Out the Storm

Posted by Don Michael, Jr. on March 2nd, 2009 in Mask Paintings

In search of new ideas, I recently did an online image search for Greek masks. I happened upon the Flickr.com account of Mary Harrsch who has posted several wonderful photographs of masks and sculptures from museums she’s visited over the years. One that specifically caught my eye is of a Greek or Roman bronze handle attachment in the form of a mask portraying the god Dionysus. I contacted Mary and she gave me permission to use this image for reference as long as I gave her credit. I consider it an honor to do so. Thank you, Mary.

I had a lot of fun putting this mask to canvas. I started with a bright orange underpainting mixed with a light molding paste. I really textured this undercoat with a natural sponge giving the canvas a stucco-like feel and look. I then started laying in the shadow pattern with a palette knife, but found the texture was too much for the knife to handle. So I went to a stiff bristled brush almost immediately. I really enjoy how the texture made me rethink how I applied my paint. It’s fun when experiments push your limits and still work…

As fun as it was to paint, this ended up being one of the most difficult of my paintings to title so far. The expression of the mask is so stoic and strong that I wanted the title to reflect this. The colors are so rustic that I wanted this reflected, as well. I wrote down words like Incorruptible, Strength, Tempest, Change, Resolute, Long-suffering and Odyssey. As I went over these thoughts with my wife, she mentioned that the mask made her think of a fatherly figure or a king – someone who’ll take care of any situation. So, it was back to the studio with my Thesaurus, two dictionaries and two books of quotations. After several hours I came upon the quote by Persius that goes, “He conquers who endures”. I had found my title… (I also would like to mention I’m reading “John Adams” by David McCullough which helped to inspire the thoughts of incorruptibility and strength of character.) Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

He Conquers Who Endures – 24″x20″ – Completed 2-28-09

©2009, Don Michael, Jr.

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