Most of my work mainly involves urban environments, be it paintings, mixed media, or photos. But in 2020, I was compelled to create a piece that was different on two fronts. First, it is figurative, and second, it has a clear symbolic meaning.
The piece is called Black Lives Matter (BLM).
I want to share how it came to light.
As I have mentioned before, I create all of my concept work digitally, using Photoshop. In 2019 I took a refresher Photoshop class. One of the assignments was to create a magazine cover. While researching for the assignment, I found a photo of the Jamaican musician, Gyptian.
I fell in love with a photo of him, which feels so regal. The photo reminded me of the Italian Renaissance portrait of Federico da Montefeltro (1422-1482 A.D), the lord of Urbino. In the photo and the painting, I felt the calm power of each man.
Shortly after I completed the magazine cover assignment, George Floyd was killed. Like many people, I was angry and wanted to see changes. I realized that the digital image I completed for the Photoshop class would adapt beautifully to a statement about the Black Lives Matter movement.
It was important to me not to create a portrait of Gyptian but to make a man who could be any man of color, so I readapted the face using a variety of reference photos of different men. I also wanted to give the portrait a traditional feel, with contemporary styling and paint style.
Symbolically, my king is regal and dignified, but as a man of color, he is still held down by shackles. We as a society must do more to create positive change, releasing the bonds.
BLM is one of my favorite paintings.