Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Case Study #2 - Frank Playing Guitar

"Frank Playing Guitar" oil on canvas 30"h x 24"w
An alla prima guitar?
I don't think so. I have to lay this one in first.
I am trying to work on two bodies of work concurrently. I have the large plywood with the canvas ready to go. I am just at a roadblock as to what to paint on it with perhaps too many ideas running through my head. So, while I ruminate about the large canvas painting, I thought it would be a good time to get back to work on my NF Tribute portraits. I have been in contact with Frank Moore about painting his portrait for a couple of months now. I met him on Facebook just like Reggie. Even though Frank has had his leg amputated from NF complications, that doesn't seem to stop him from getting outdoors and hiking. He also enjoys heavy metal music and playing guitar. He seemed like the perfect candidate for my next painting.

Frank, like Reggie, does not live anywhere near me. Reggie lives in Houston, TX and Frank Moore lives in Clifton, Colorado. So, this time I had to ask him the favor of asking a friend to take pictures of him playing guitar. Frank was happy to help. The first images he sent were of him playing guitar but the flash had completely wiped out any color differences or subtleties on his face. I asked him to set up a photo shoot with a friend and go outside and make sure the sun hit one side of his face while he played guitar. It is kind of strange to art direct a photo shoot via FB messages, but he and his friend did a great job and got me some really good photos to work from. I settled on one that showed most of his torso while he played guitar.

10 - 15-12 -
I had to do a grisaille under painting in order to
get the guitar and folds of the t-shirt to make sense
Because of NF, his arm has many tumors. Interestingly, Frank has a full tattoo on both his forearm and upper arm regions that seem to compliment the tumors as the drawings on his skin will wrap around the tumors. Whether that was intentional or accidental the end result looks very cool.

Originally I had thought it might be interesting to paint Frank doing something that showed his truncated leg and how he is able to adapt just fine with his prosthetic leg, but then it occurred to me that maybe he doesn't really feel like his ambulatory differences are all that important in the entire make up of his personality. So, I chose to just forego that idea in the thought that it might even seem exploitative of NF in general. And, by this point, everyone should know that is not my intent at all.

First lay in of color
"Frank Playing Guitar" - 24"x 30"h oil on canvas

I still need to go back and rework the Reggie Sipping Coffee painting as well since both my last mentor and current mentor thought I could improve the background on it. My advisor, Peter, had thought of coming up with a bit of text to accompany the paintings. Something that would explain who these people are when the viewer looks at them. So, I plan on getting something in writing from both Reggie and Frank when the time gets closer to displaying these paintings. I like that idea a lot as it gives the viewer an inside look into the personalities of the individuals portrayed. My advisor also said something to the affect of: Try to imagine what the exhibition would look like under ideal conditions. Ideally, I would have 17 of these portraits painted. Chromosome 17 is responsible for NF1. If I painted anyone with NF2 that is located on chromosome 22. I will concentrate on people with NF1 for now.

Frank getting his picture taken at the hospital
I also like painting adults with NF. Truthfully, in 2005 with the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation changed its name to the Children's Tumor Foundation it left many people with NF feeling isolated. I understand why the organization did that. It really is much easier to fundraise for kids with tumors than for 30+ year old people with tumors and in the end, we just need to find a cure. I happen to love this charity because they have done so much to raise awareness and help fund scientists to do clinical research. So, if it takes people seeing babies with tumors to donate, fine by me. But, it's never been completely fine with me for the adults with NF to think that suddenly no one cares about them any more. So, these portraits will all be adults with NF1.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Well, once again I am working on a very large canvas. This time, I can say that I already like my idea and start to this one better. In fact, I think I will leave most of the gown just the gesso. If you look below you can see it was much longer initially and then I cut off about 2.5 feet in width. I decided to have the text be reversed out and in my own handwriting. All the thoughts that go through my head while I "wait". Probably the same thoughts that go through any parents head. It doesn't really matter what your child is going in for, you are worried and you wonder why. Why my son? On the other hand, I would never want it to be someone else's son either. I simply don't want it to exist. I digress. Formally speaking, I rather like the idea that the gown is still just gesso with only hints of oil paint on it and mostly charcoal drawing (which doesn't show up well in my photos).

"Waiting" oil and charcoal on canvas. 48"h x 52"w 

Earlier I had thought about incorporating the text on the forms that the parent always has to fill out while waiting for the doctor to come in. I sometimes think they just give us forms to keep us busy and to not notice how long we are waiting after our scheduled time. I think they then secretly shred them later or put them into a folder that will then get misplaced.

Initial Drawing - "Waiting" 4 foot high by 7 foot wide.
oil on canvas. As of November 27, 2012
As parents, we like to fill out forms because it makes us think we actually have control over our child's health care. Like most parents, I sit there calculating in my head what the cost should end up being depending on what our insurance covers. I also sketch all the time. I have done many drawings of waiting rooms. You can see them displayed at doctor's offices all around the Omaha area. They doctors love them and just hang them up in miscellaneous areas.

Often times I offer to draw a caricature in leu of paying the co-pay. The receptionists always laugh, but by now they know I am serious. So, if nothing else, I at least ask them to hire me for their company parties to help offset the copious co-pays. AND...drumroll please...That seems to always be a winner!

Ta - Dah! Who says you can't pay for your healthcare via art?

I'll trade you one surgery for 3 still lifes! haha....

Well...all kidding aside...right now I am "waiting" for my youngest son to get over the flu so I can continue to paint on this canvas.