June 19, 2014

Mona Cartman – A Commission for Dylan

My favourite thing in the world right now is painting for commissions. It’s so easy to get bogged down in what my preferences are, painting variations on the same thing over and over. Commissions add in a fresh approach, new ideas and of course lots of wonderful energy. The idea, and I’ve said this before, that the finished painting(s) already has a home to go to is really satisfying.

This particular painting was a request that hit me sideways. South Park meets the Mona Lisa. I love both, though it has been a few years since I watched South Park, and the mashup completely never occurred to me. I actually had some doubt about whether I could do the Mona Lisa convincingly so I mentally hesitated for a day or so and then… whoosh! The time was right and I put knife to canvas. Not in a stabby way but in a painterly way.






Starting, as usual, from back to front and warming up with long loose strokes. The Mona Lisa looks very monochromatic until you take a really good look. Full of yellows and browns, yes, but also blues and greens and even red. It’s an incredible painting and I learned more about it painting my version than I ever did reading about it in history books. Sorry, art history teachers, but maybe hands on is the better approach to teaching.






You can see how I build up from background to foreground in each progressive photo. I started with a loose sketch of the actual human for placement and then painted over her with Cartman. As I went, I kept tweaking because I wasn’t happy with Cartman’s placement or size. The whole point of the painting wasn’t to show off the background but to merge two very disparate subjects.

One of the things I love about painting on FaceBook, is getting questions as I go. I’m posting live to share the creative process which I think is more interesting than just seeing a final painting, and sometimes I get questions. No question is dumb and knowing that I have an audience and not just throwing myself out into the vast emptiness of cyberspace is nice. This painting was an excellent demonstration of how I fix mistakes or things that aren’t quite right, as I go. For the most part, paint is incredibly forgiving and it’s just a matter of painting over the problem. Sometimes the paint has to dry first, but with acrylics, initial drying is pretty fast. Final drying – to the core of the painting is about 24 hours depending on how thickly the paint is applied.



In the Mona Lisa, the light comes from above. You can see in her dress and face where it falls. Now we know that South Park characters don’t have the range of movement or features to make a complete copy but I can help the feeling of the Mona Lisa along by mimicking the light source. You can also see a sense of draping on Cartman’s coat designed to give the feel of a drapey dress and again reinforce the ML.





I switch down to smaller brushes as I go, the one pictured is the smallest one I’ve used on this painting. A light touch, a very steady hand and a bit of good luck makes for strong detail work. Cartman doesn’t have a lot of outlines in his cartoon style but there’s enough to define the shapes. I used outlines in black to hint and strengthen shapes and colours. Enough in the background to pop him forward and enough on the face to make him look like him.

monaCartman_1The Mona Cartman. 16″x20″ Acrylic on canvas. Probably the most hilarious painting I’ve ever made.

I take commissions. I LOVE commissions. If you have a mashup, a fandom or anything you want painted, let’s talk. My rates are affordable and you can see your painting come to life live on Facebook. So very cool!

Want something I already painted? I have items in my Etsy store but I also have a lot of unlisted items that are for sale. If you see something of mine online and want to purchase it or ask about it, please do so. Almost everything I make is available for purchase and right now you benefit from emerging artist prices. Those won’t last for long!