Portrait of Comedian Eric Andre
This post continues the discussion of a wild painting weekend I had in October, during which I somehow churned through five paintings. As I’ve mentioned, this is not at all something I set out to do specifically; I just finished one, found I wanted to paint more, so I kept rolling. The subject of this painting is Eric Andre, a comedian who has created some of the strangest and most surreal skits/sketches I’ve seen on television. This was the third painting I completed that weekend, which immediately followed my early Saturday morning Bob Ross-style landscape.
If you aren’t familiar with Eric Andre, it might help to provide some context to where and when his show airs. The Eric Andre Show fits perfectly into the wild world of Cartoon Networks “Adult Swim” block. Although I haven’t watched it in quite some time, Adult Swim is still around, and includes the popular Rick and Morty series. Back in the day though, some of it’s biggest hits were shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job, and going back even farther, Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Time and Eric, by the way, still find themselves into current pop culture via memes – I have a good chuckle whenever I come across one.
Although my prime time for watching this type of show was years ago, the Eric Andre show is right there with it’s predecessors, perfect for that style of absurdist humor and absolutely wild sketches. I know it’s very much a niche that not everyone finds funny though. My wife for example, who loves a good laugh, isn’t really a fan of any of these shows (although she does appreciate a few of the related memes and inside jokes we have). The show always starts off with Eric destroying the set, which is somehow still funny even after seeing it so many times. And many of the skits would sometimes just leave me in fits laughing and I’m not even sure why exactly – perhaps the combination of Eric Andre’s delivery/approach and the fact that you never knew what was going to happen. I also really enjoy the interviews. Although I’m sure many people being interviewed were “in on the joke”, I got the impression that not everyone was.
So, getting back to this artwork. I had the notion to draw a portrait of Eric Andre quite some time ago, but never really got around to it. In the middle that painting frenzy weekend, I completed (for the most part) two interesting projects. Yet somehow I was still all fired up to paint. I mulled a few things over and figured why not this one from their “Who Killed Hannibal” skit. Here’s how it turned out:
I feel like this portrait showed some tangible improvements in my painting skills. One aspect of photo images that has become more noticeable now that I’m using paints is good lighting. I find myself really critically evaluating photo images now, looking for light sources that aren’t washed out and more solid color balance and differences. The reference I used here, which was directly from the show, has great color representation. I was able to apply a good variety of blends; reds, yellows, whites, and browns all mixed and balanced to varying degrees. I even added some cooler tones where I could lean towards shadows.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the strong reference photo allowed me to push the learning process better than I would have with something more washed out. My old litmus test for pencil drawings was always “does it look like the subject?” I think with paints, my test is becoming more along the lines of “do the colors and shapes work together the right way?” In some ways, I can’t completely define “right way” though…I want it to look natural, but I also want it to be visually interesting or appealing. So I guess “right” is very subjective. But it seems I’m not looking at this through as narrow a lens as I did with pencils.
So, the color array and blends are something that I feel works. As a bonus, I did mange to make it look like Eric Andre. With painting, I’m finding that even starting with an outline, it can be easy to lose a resemblance over the totality of the project. A little shift here, a little shift there…suddenly it all adds up to something that isn’t quite right. But I minimized the shifts I think. Long term, I want to try some techniques I’ve seen painters use wherein they don’t even outline. A painter whose videos I’ve been watching, Chris Fornataro (“The Paint Coach”), refers to it as “molding the paint.” That makes sense. I’ve made note of it as something over time I want to work towards.
Although it’s a small thing, an interesting aspect to this is the paper. On many of these portraits, I used a very thick, textured paper designed to be used with oils. But, this time I just used plain old Strathmore drawing paper. I also used this type for the informal, unplanned paintings I did to use up my extra paint. I had some vague worries about how it wouldn’t handle the paint well, but it turns out that was mostly unfounded. I do prefer the thick textured paper, which more closely resembles a canvass. But drawing paper isn’t terrible; paint just flows a bit differently.
Unfortunately, since I was so pumped up about painting, I forgot to take progression photos. So I don’t have a video to share this time around. I have so many more paintings to post, I just need to get some thoughts together to write about them. As I said, this is only the third of five from this particular weekend. I was actually doing a good job of keeping count of how many paintings I’ve done until recently – but I’m to that tipping point when I don’t know how many it is anymore. Possibly 15? And I’ve only shared a few here, so I’m way behind!
A problem with paper will be oil soaking through and degrading the paper itself. I’ve primed paper and boards, old canvasses too, with gesso, tinted with a small amount of a nearly neutral mix of acrylic paint. It gives a nice painting surface and is quick (don’t let it dry out on brushes!). Having a neutral – warm or cool as appropriate – ground makes it much easier to get tones balanced and can add an interesting underpainting effect too.
You’ve got me curious about his show now…
The drawing paper I’ve been using is fairly thick so I haven’t experienced any soak through yet. But I do prefer Strathmore’s linen paper that’s made for oils…I haven’t used it for everything though, because it’s definitely more expensive per sheet than the other. I guess that’s life with painting though eh?
That does make me wonder though – are there long term issues with using drawing paper with oils? Even if it’s not apparent right now. Perhaps yellowing? Paper degrading over time?
The show is pretty funny if you like surreal/bizarre comedy – it’s also definitely NSFW (if you have anyone around sensitive to that sort of thing). There have been times when I was so taken by surprise by what was happening I couldn’t even catch my breath from laughing. The first time I saw a sketch called “Bird Up” was like that. Just a moment of “what in the world is happening here.” It’s definitely niche though!
Thank you Phoebe!
By the way, I love that House on Cherry Street painting you’ve done – I really appreciated the texture and color variations. Now that I’m painting, I feel like I’m examining other works in a different way to see if I can figure out how it’s done. This one has such great use of small color differences for shadows. Very nicely done