Baroque 'n' Roll
This is a painting commissioned for a Vodafone (Ireland) campaign by Grey Advertising in London.
The concept required a pastiche of a baroque painting. To complicate matters the figures were to be painted separately from the background so that they could be rearranged to fit various poster and press formats.
Here's a small fraction of the reference images I collected - 18th century images for painting style, fashion and hairstyles, photos of the palace of versaille and other baroque interiors. From these I produced an initial sketch...
After a few minor alterations it was time to round up some 'baroquers' for a photo shoot. Here are my better half and most astute critic, Orna, two of my sons, one of my daughters and several of their friends, among them - by happy coincidence - a cello player and a flautist.
These are the initial outlines for the figures, painted in acrylic on panel for quick drying. I started with a warm background colour which I judged would be an average of the final background. Once approved, the figures would be painted in oils over the outlines.
i also underpainted the backround in acrylic to establish the tones and colours. I liked the painting at this stage. The simplicity and stillness give it a touch of the Edward Hoppers, I think...
The painting was completed in oils.
Here's the finished background, showing two of the principal orientations. Look Ma, no figures!
I gave names to all the figures - partly to keep myself amused, and also to help me keep the many picture references organised for each character. The chap above is called Happy (his brother, Clappy, stands at the back of the room). The girl below is Flora, since she was sitting on the floor.
A detail of fabric. The rich rendering of silks and satins common in Baroque painting were both daunting and very satisfying to try and imitate, although I suspect the Baroque painters usually had more than three weeks to work with.
The model for Guitar Man is my son, Calloway. He plays guitar and bass, so he knows where to put his fingers and how to make the Guitar Face. I thought I might have to feed him some vinegar for this, but he did just fine without.
Here's how the poster looks in vertical and horizontal formats...
...and here it is as a 48-sheet poster around Dublin, photos courtesy of snap-happy illustrator Steve Doogan. I also received some sage advice from PJ Lynch about working for large formats, and invaluable pointers in photographing artwork from Roberto Parada. The job came to me via Andrew at Debut Art. Thanks, fellas.