"Say your prayers and light a fire." ~ from 21st Century Breakdown
It would have been easy to illustrate Billie Joe Armstrong, of Green Day, in a very animated pose with mouth a-twistin' to "¡Viva La Gloria!." That's how one expects to see him, right? However, in such a pose, the image starts to become all about the photo. I wanted to bring to life something more contemplative.
Round about 6:56 am, one fine day, I was in my car listening to the song, "Warning," on Lithium (54 on your Sirius-XM dial for XM subscribers). I thought to myself, Billie Joe Armstrong would make an interesting subject for an illustration. This is appropriate timing, too, since his band's latest effort is fresh on our minds.
This summer, I'm fortunate to be working with an amazing young illustrator named Becca Johnson. What better time to jump on Billie Joe, than as a demo?
With bold strokes, I engaged in a process, very cleverly coined by Becca, as "unpainting." It's very proprietary. In fact, I may have already said too much.
After knocking out phase one, we brought the piece into Photoshop, where the process shifted to value and then color.
With repetition, and as I become more comfortable with my process, or style, if you will, I'm always looking to strip away the unnecessary and distill paintings to the essence of what may (or may not) make them work. Glancing through the blog, one thing I notice is Billie's brush strokes are more prominent, and evidence of the human touch is on display with greater note than in some of my prior works.
With color, the obvious would have been to lather this piece in green. It turns out, Billie Joe's eyes are, indeed, green. So, look as you might, the only two spots of the aforementioned color are peering, contemplatively, in your direction.
Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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