March 30, 2016

Chewie, We’re Home

Normally, my new normal, I’d be filling this post full of videos. I certainly recorded enough last night. But the reality is, I am suffering from the tail end of con crud and listening to them today was rather…meh. Stuffy nose and losing my train of thought does not a good video make! So instead, I’m going to write much of what I said, but leave the sniffles out.

This is a commission for a repeat client of mine who makes fantastic painting choices. And this isn’t just me sucking up, but seriously when he or his wife says paint, I am so there. The moments they want immortalized move me to my soul and it is an honour to paint for them.

This particular scene, from the trailer of The Force Awakens, touched everyone who loved Star Wars. Am I right? Because the Millennium Falcon, much like the impala in Supernatural or the General Lee in Dukes of Hazzard, is an important character in Star Wars. When you ask people to list things and people from Star Wars it comes up first or in the top three.

Chuck Han and Chewie in there and you have home.

She may be a bucket of bolts or a hunk of junk but she’s got it where it counts.


At this point, I had layered the white paint on the black canvas and I knew I had a fuck up in place. Anyone who knows the characters can probably pick it out. I didn’t say anything on Facebook because posts appear out of order and the last thing I want to do is bash myself on maybe the one post someone sees. Not good for business.

But, I believe in sharing the full journey in a painting and I knew I’d talk about it here. Check out Chewbacca’s face. Just look at it. He looks like some kind of partially melted muppet. And that’s because I messed up his nose placement.

While I do work with a drawing for every painting, sometimes that drawing isn’t complete or, and this is my very favourite, the chalk lines disappear.  Or, I mix up where the colours should go. This was a combination of all three. And I left out his fucking nose.

Not a big deal because acrylic is forgiving. Let it dry and paint over it. Easy peasy. But it was both disconcerting and hilarious to see that mushed up face.


At this point, I had only two layers of colour in place and the painting really pulled together. This kind of moment is special to me because I used to struggle so much when painting portraits. Seeing them pull together, not effortlessly, but certainly with less angst, is incredible. I’m not sure I will ever get tired of that.


Like my other paintings, I start and often finish working in flat or nearly flat layers of colour. This painting had a limited palette but it works. White, black, yellow, red, blue and purple and that’s it. When I hit the red, you can see that I started really re-working Chewie’s face. Adjusting for his nose placement and trying to salvage his face a bit. Plus add some depth to the whole painting.

I knew at this point I was going to have to flip things around and work the black layer in. I don’t normally put it in the middle because the odds of having black fuck up the other colours, muddying them, is high. I either start or finish with black. But I needed to reinforce the shapes and the beauty of painting is the fact that I can make choices like these on the fly.

Take a look at the one painting and then the next. Check out what a difference the black makes.

Now I know that painting rules say lots of flat black doesn’t work in a piece, but I honestly think..fuck it. I KNOW that when you know the rules, you can break them. And this is what I do. Using black with abandon and glee.


So from the point on, the painting stayed in balance because all major shapes and colours were anchored visually. It became just a matter of a few colours to finish things up.

I like to do a mix of warm and cool colours, so adding in blues and purples just pulled the characters from the background in a really subtle but effective way.


And then the painting was done.


“Chewie, We’re Home”

20″ x 16″

Acrylic on canvas