One of the cool things about portraiture is the opportunity to illustrate notable figures. One of those folks, for me, was Al Gore. This is the second time I've portrayed him in charcoal. The first time was in the 90s, when he was still Vice President. That particular illustration was for Science Magazine and was to accompany an article he wrote. But, as sometimes happens, the story was killed, and the illustration didn't see the printed page.
This particular illustration was done a few months ago for McKinsey and Company to accompany an article he wrote with one of his business partners, David Blood, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, whom I also illustrated. The two men formed an investment-management firm dedicated to investing for sustainability. In this article, they discuss socially responsible investing and society's expectations of corporate responsibility. When the assignment came, I was asked to illustrate Blood and Gore. I said, "You got it."
Of course, Al Gore has now become a bit of a rock star, what with his Academy Award, Nobel Peace Prize, and the host of other bits of recognition he has garnered over the past few years -- primarily dealing with his efforts toward calling attention to global warming.
Whenever I do a black and white portrait, I will compose one preliminary sketch, unless there is a need to create more. Then, upon approval, go to the final art, done on Canson paper at a size of 14 inches X 18 inches, scan it, and do some minor processing in Photoshop to prepare it for the digital realm (set my black and white points and do some minor clean-up).
The key for me, in doing these portraits, lies in creating an interesting composition with the black and white pattern distribution, and bringing out the interest created by the handling of the medium -- while maintaining the likeness of the subject.