If you’ve been following Halloween Love over the last year or so, you may have noticed that many of my posts focus on art and the individuals who create it. Art in all of its many wonderful forms is probably my biggest passion (after watching horror movies), so it’s always felt natural to write about it and I tend to have a lot to say! I must also admit that I’m probably the most frustrated wannabe artist you are ever likely to meet, because I’m simply not able to produce work to a standard that makes ME happy.
As a kid I was GOOD (if I do say so myself), and that lasted well into my teens when friends would get me to draw horror movie posters for them and I would often get asked to produce flyers at school for various events such as sports day and music nights. But my ability level didn’t seem to improve past the age of about 16, and despite practising on and off in the years since, I just don’t have a talent for it anymore.
So you can imagine the deep SEETHING rage I felt when my girlfriend casually told me on our first date that she was a “photorealistic portrait painter”… OH GREAT! Thank you very fucking much!
The woman that knocked me off my feet and captured my heart after being around her for just 20 minutes turns out to be some kind of insanely talented fine artist! Talk about fate kicking a guy when he’s down! It’s like spending your life wishing you were a successful actor then you start dating Jamie Lee Curtis or John Saxon!
I’d date Saxon in a second.
ANYWAY… I take her “photorealistic” claim with a pinch of salt, and later that evening ask her to send me some pictures via email to see what she is capable of. Here is a small selection of the disgustingly amazing images that greeted me a few moments after asking…
All joking aside… she is an incredible artist. And as good as these paintings look here, they look ten times better when you get to view them in person. Everyone will have their own opinion when it comes to what they consider looks “photorealistic” but sometimes I look at her work and it blows my mind that she can get such remarkable detail with just oil on canvas. To me they still look like paintings, and that is hugely important because if I wanted something that looked like a photo then I would just buy a camera! She stays on the right side of ART, and the end results can really be something special.
About three months after we got together I casually asked her one evening if she had ever considered painting a subject from popular culture, and specifically mentioned horror characters as a possibility based on the dark and atmospheric style she had embraced. She dismissed the idea (despite also being a HUGE horror fan), because she believed it would clash with her existing work and wouldn’t be something she had the time to work on due to outstanding commissions. The truth is, the challenge scared her, but I knew she could do it.
I’d love to say that I accepted her reluctance and didn’t pursue the matter further, but that would be a big fat LIE!
I hounded her for weeks and weeks, constantly telling her she should paint a poster for a horror movie, or a portrait of an iconic horror character. Every time she said “NO” it just increased my determination to see what she could create. I was as relentless as Jason Voorhees on the first day of Summer, and after several more weeks of pressure she finally cracked. A horror painting was going to happen! The only remaining question was who should she paint?
Freddy was too obvious and has been painted more times than the Queen of England. Jason was considered, but painting a hockey mask isn’t exactly a challenge. So that left MY personal preference and the natural choice with Halloween on the horizon – Mr. Michael Myers. His mask is a fascinating second skin that I knew would test any artist simply because it’s SO hard to make it look good. And from a selfish point of view I wanted to see her attempt Carpenter’s ultimate killer because I personally think he is visually the most unnerving of all the iconic horror characters. Michael’s mask IS his face! It perfectly conveys his blank focus, lack of empathy and missing humanity. What’s underneath simply doesn’t matter, and to me that makes it truly terrifying.
We discussed what we thought would look good in terms of content and placement, but when the little lady sits down to paint she is entering her domain. And this led to me being banned from following the progress of the painting on a daily basis because APPARENTLY I would constantly be asking questions and continue to be a pain in the ass when she was trying to concentrate. I considered fighting these accusations for about 3 seconds or so, then quickly came to the conclusion it was all true and shut my mouth.
A few weeks later and here we are, it’s Halloween week and I finally got to see the finished piece in all its glory. DAMN, it was worth the wait.
I’ve spent the last two years looking at art through an illuminated computer screen, and you really do forget how much texture and detail can be seen when you are face to face with a piece that has been hand painted onto a good quality canvas. The microscopic bumps and imperfections found on the surface give Michael’s mask a rough and almost weathered finish that makes you want to reach out and gently run your finger tips across each line and crease. Nothing beats being in the presence of art, because you can physically walk around it, look at it from different angles, and just REALLY study it.
I still have no idea how such fine blending and shading is possible with oil paints, and the subtlety within the shadows and each scar on that most famous of masks had me lost for words (which doesn’t happen very often). I’ve always loved the iconic half-face image of Michael that was widely used after Halloween 4 was released, and this piece combines that classic shot with the legendary look he had throughout Halloween 2. It’s a dynamic balance of creepy distance and up-close danger that I believe ended up working perfectly.
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this project has been the emergence of a desire to explore art like this further. My girlfriend has gone from doubt to DEMON in a few short weeks, and I’m already walking past a large work-in-progress painting of Ripley and an Alien every time I enter the house! Ghostface is on the horizon, and Jack Torrance is a regular topic of conversation most evenings now. What have I unleashed!!
For more information on this painting and to keep up to date with future work, head on over to the Grey Raven Arts facebook page and give it a “LIKE”… I have a sneaking suspicion you will be glad you did over the next few months.
Until next time, stay safe and keep it horror!
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