"Burden" was painted in 30 hours over a week and a half's time. It started with a two hour long photo shoot with photographer Patrick Clancy and my model and cousin Dominic Pitera. It wasn't until my Dad brought it up to my attention that every time I paint men it resembles my brother or other family members. So I jumped in with two feet and got a hold of my cousin. I dressed Dom in my Moms forty year old wollen cloak and he fit the look of Alden, my hooded assassin character, perfectly! To my surprise he even works out so his arms were amazingly fit and stood out handsomely. We started with several warm up poses and eventually got into the swing of things. I moved Dom around like a puppet to get right flows of the cape, pose of the body and shadow shapes to fully capture my vision. One tangent of photos we worked on was of his hands cupped in front of him plotting, then we moved them to his face like he was upset. Then I grabbed his right hand and moved it up above his head where his pinky got caught under the hood and we kept it there. I urged Dom to look more smirk and then moved his elbow in and told him to tense. Click! There it was! I was so excited about it I hopped around wit a big grin. More reference photos were taken that night but I couldn't wait to paint that one.
Michael's had a 65% off sale on canvases so I was able to get a large 30x48in canvas for only 21 dollars! Getting such an amazing deal made me even more excited to paint. It was my largest canvas so far. I wanted to paint it as accurate as I could so I marked inches along the sides of my canvas and had the photo set to scale in photoshop. I played advanced connect the dots, as I like to call it, and found points on the computer and measured "five inches over and 18 inches down" to make mark. Then I did the same to find the next and connect them. As I connected a full shape I was able to shade in values. I did this all with burnt sienna so that when I go in with color afterward there was a nice warm glow... Making my under painting took five hours.
Next was background. This also took five hours but I was also watching the show Burn Notice and I can't guarantee I was fully engaged in applying paint. It was a simple task that didn't need me to see the reference. I just let my creative juices flow.
The face was next as it was one of the furthest back subjects aside from the background. I spent two hours applying the first pass color. Still raw but coming together nicely!
Then I started on first pass color of the arms. They were large and challenging and it took a while to get enough paint on the canvas to cover it. I don't remember how long each arm took but I know they were a majority of the time taken. Once First pass color was completed on most of the skin I started rendering in more in the face and hands. I worked top to bottom of the canvas as I was a bit intimidated by Dom's hairy arms. I sucked it up and turned off my brain and just went for it trusting in my instincts. Sure enough it was as easy as that and with a few washes and blurring I created the illusion of hair. Everything is just shape and color right?
I took the painting into the atrium to view in better light and step back. I immediately saw a few things i needed to fix and took note. The background was one. It was too flat and bright. Since it was one of the first things I painted it was pretty dry so it allowed me to apply black washes to it and push him into darkness causing it to look like he was coming out of the painting. Simple things like that really change a piece from neat to stunning!
The hardest parts were next, signing and naming. I always get nervous about signing because painting thin straight lines is a challenge to me. Throughout the whole week I had been trying to think of a good name. I can rarely find a good one on my own so my go to guy is Mathew Colville, my friend and writer at Turtle Rock Studios. He came back with "Weight" and I loved the idea of it! This heavy weight upon his sholders and the trobles it is causing him... Fantastic! However saying the word isn't as charming. The sound the t made wasn't heavy enough. I went to a thesaurus and found "Burden". It sounded solid and powerful and I fell in love.
"Burden" is my favorite painting I have done so far, and I am proud to have created it in such a short time frame in a place I love during a special time in my life.
After its completion I began visualizing the character I had created. For two years I brainstormed the story he had—what burden he was enduring. In 2016 I finally bought a laptop and began writing. Over the years I had amassed a collection of notes and timelines, characters and places. I drew maps. I drew other characters. I had created a world, and it was lush. I spent the year writing it, and in 2017 working on editing it. Burden is now complete and I am on the next steps of publication. You can read the first chapter here on my webstie: