Friday, April 07, 2006

Biker Baby

Sometimes I am so drawn to a picture that I think about it for a long time before I paint it and I try to think about WHY I am drawn to it. I may be at a crossroads of some sort here. I don't know the man I have painted here, but I know several guys just like him. I think that all artists eventually arrive at a time in their life where they know exactly what they want to paint. For some it takes years; others know as soon as they pick up their brushes. It's taken me a few years to discover that what I really care about illustrating is relationships. I've always loved Norman Rockwell paintings because he was so good at painting real people in everyday settings. Maybe he idealized the people he painted a bit, but his paintings always held a message if you looked beyond the surface. This is what I've decided I want to do with my art: paint real people, in ordinary situations, doing ordinary things. Each painting will have an underlying message-but not preachy. Sometimes the message inside the painting might be a little obscure, but I guarantee it's there. If the painting raises more questions than answers that's alright too.
Does the man below care for the baby? Could he be the child's father? The grandfather? Why does he have all those tattoos? Was he in prison? Where are they? A swap meet? Is the man drinking beer while he holds the baby? Or does the beer belong to someone else at the table? Where is the baby's mother and why would she leave him here with this biker guy?
Paintings can mean different things to different people. We're all tempted to judge people as soon as we meet them, and we often do this with preconceived notions about what they should look like and how they should act. The man in the painting might be a pretty nice guy, but we're going to judge him based on what we know about leather clad, tattooed folk, aren't we?

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