Monday, May 11, 2009

Fistful of Steel

This was a personal piece, completed for my own entertainment.

I wanted to do something moody, compositionally interesting, and slightly dark, on a number of levels.

I was able to get my hands on a photograph of a young woman, whose pose created some great angles and movement, not to mention some nice play of light and shadows.

Sometimes, I like to accentuate these lines through exaggeration. Here, the exaggerated lines allowed a strong angular composition, complimented with an unusual, vertical shadow on her face.

I liked it.

When working on personal pieces, like Fistful of Steel, I allow myself more freedom to fail. What this means is, I make the mark and I own it -- almost daring it not to work. I place total trust in what abilities I have, let the chips fall where they may, and lay down the stroke -- knowing there is no other place on the page it belongs.

I did indeed lay down some expressive strokes of charcoal to render the gal, and among what resulted was a very textured dappling of marks defining her arm -- bringing to mind a tattoo. So, why not add a tattoo and complete the effect?

This was a fun exercise and a much-needed way to release some creative energy.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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maestro said...

Hi Allen, Could you tell me the laws on selling portraits taken from photos of celebrities. I have been doing it, but I am worried about potential legal problems.

Allan Burch said...


In what you describe, you run into 2 issues, as I see it.

#1. Unless you are the one taking the photograph, or you are compositing multiple sources so a single source is not recognizable, you may be infringing on another photographer's copyright.

#2. A celebrity's likeness is a large part of their brand, so they can be very protective against unauthorized use of their likeness.

If you are selling these portraits in high profile venues, you may be setting yourself up for trouble.

If in doubt, err on the side of conservatism.

Hope that helps.


g2bhapi26 said...

I love your work and how you describe your thought process. This is also probably my favorite piece. However I don't really see it as dark but more somber, which I appreciate more.

Allan Burch said...

Thanks so much, Amy! I really appreciate it. I like this piece, too.