Friday, June 19, 2009

Dick Cheney's Melted Mirror Smile

“I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue,” he told me. "It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

The above quote came from CIA Chief Leon Panetta, in an interview with The New Yorker. In this interview, Panetta responds to Dick Cheney's speech at the American Enterprise Institute, during which Cheney slams the Obama administration for their (in his eyes) less-than-aggressive stance on national security.

Cheney out for blood. I thought this whole story seemed ripe for illustrating.

I also thought the bulk of the story could be told by utilizing his own features.

After doing a search for photos, I landed a few that just said...him. If you've watched him over the years, you know he has some very distinctive features and mannerisms. One of which is his occasionally snarling mouth.

As I continued studying his mug, I began to see the other idiosyncrasies defining his face -- such as how his right eye seems more open than his left, and how his lower teeth seem to form an angular pyramid-like shape.

I enhanced the snarl, and gave him a bit of a canine tooth -- jutting out for all to see, to let you know he means business.

The eyes -- windows to the soul.

The fact that one eye seems larger than the other is somehow perfect. He's looking at you with the left and elsewhere with the right. Both have rocket-shaped highlights.

Lighting became a tool as the spotlight was placed on the tusk-baring mouth.

Saturation also became a tool, to help focus the viewer's attention.

As I settled in to add color, my only direction was the agitating crimsons in the underpainting were must-keeps.

"Painters are dramatists. Every painting needs protagonists and antagonists." ~ landscape artist, Robert Sweeney.

I realized red was the star, here. It was both helping to carry the story and very symbolic -- blood, anger, aggression.

But, there needed to be balance.

A simple spot of blue -- the cool, peaceful antagonist tasked with taming the Dracula-esque former Vice President.


Out for blood?

At least, politically.

Many thanks to my very talented intern, Becca Johnson, whose assistance and artistic input helped bring this piece to fruition.

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

Really? You take the beleive that the joker (Gore or Obismal) is a good guy?

Allan Burch said...


I take the belief that the quote by Mr. Panetta invokes many visual images. One can argue Panetta's quote, in The New Yorker, portrays Dick Cheney's stance as an aggressive one, as per the "blood in the water" reference. Whether it is or isn't is up for debate on other blogs, no doubt. As an illustrator, an aggressive stance by Cheney makes for an interesting illustration, in my opinion, politics aside.