"The way I used to love you
Baby, that's the way I hate you now."
--B. B. King, from the song, "You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now."
Quite frankly, there are plenty of opportunities out there to see the cozy side of Valentine's Day. What about the other side?
One of my favorite artistic techniques to call attention to something is to bring to mind its opposite.
How do you call to mind the opposite of love? Is love always a good thing?
Assuming for a moment that it is, what is that minute like when one realizes things have gone toxic?
Maybe it looks like this.
This is a charcoal study for a painting I have planned.
What's endlessly fascinating to me about this pose is its honesty, coupled with the tension in the body, which is also reflected in the tussled explosion of hair and gnarled hands keeping it from bursting from its seams.
The attractive woman is not attractive in her polka-dotted spaghetti strap summer dress. The revealing flesh and contours of the back, accentuated by the straps, digging in and winding their way around the scapulae, is nothing but vulnerable, as it sits exposed on her unkempt bed, doubled over in absolute grief.
This image is a collaborative effort with Photographer, Nathalie Mark.
I was thinking about the other side of Valentine's Day and what kind of imagery would speak to utter toxicity.
Turning to the web for some inspiration, I happened upon a photograph that wound-up being the reference for this illustration.
I saw incredible potential in a shot that, intended or not, captured something very pure and very emotional, and something that would be very difficult for me to otherwise stage. Plus, the supplemental components (the dress, bed, lighting, room decor) were perfect, and exceptionally ripe for storytelling, in my eyes.
I decided I had to go to the source and see if the photographer would grant permission for me to use the photo as reference for part of a series of illustrations I am planning.
Ms. Mark was very gracious, and we worked out an arrangement granting me such permission.
This is the study.
Some other elements will be added to the painting, to further enhance the story, but as a drawing, I think the power in the pose comes across.
Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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