Archive for the ‘All Posts 2002-2006’ Category

This is the Laurens acrylic sketch that I wanted to turn into a large painting.

This is the Laurens acrylic sketch that I wanted to turn into a large painting.

After the Palm Grove painting, I’d been thinking I wanted to tackle doing a large painting from the acrylic sketch of Laurens out by Koko Head, the one that was such a breakthrough for me. But I was nervous about it, because it’s such a great sketch, filled with life and energy, and that’s difficult to translate into a larger work. Often the larger work will turn out okay, but lack the energy of the smaller, less finished work. Still, in a case like this I feel like the painting is there already, just waiting for me to paint it. Like it already exists, just not in the physical world yet. So I don’t have much choice but to paint it, and hope for the best. At times like these I really feel like I’m a tool or a channel. I’m not the creator. The painting wants to come out through me, and my job is to keep out of the way as much as possible while it’s happening.

First 3 stages of the painting.

First 3 stages of the painting.

I spent a couple of hours in the morning drawing the image onto the canvas. It went pretty quickly. I only had to erase the entire figure and re-draw it in a different place once (sometimes I have to do that 3 or 4 times). Then I painted over the outlines in black, then covered the whole thing with a wash of dioxazine purple. Then I left it to dry and did other things.

Right from the first strokes of paint I put on the clouds and sky, everything just went right.

Right from the first strokes of paint I put on the clouds and sky, everything just went right.

I didn’t get back to the painting until the evening—a Friday evening, which usually is time for me to go out and be social. But since I was going to be surfing with the Gay Surf Club the next morning, and going to a pool party in Hawaii Kai in the afternoon and early evening, and to a Big Tom event (a dance party with a mainland DJ) at Mist in the late evening, I decided it would be good to stay in and paint the night before, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about partying and playing all day and night on Saturday. So that’s what I did. And I’m SO glad I did…because everything just fell into place, right from the start. When I started painting the upper left, with the blue sky and the white clouds, right from the beginning everything just went onto the canvas like magic. Every stroke looked good, felt good. That’s a rare and wonderful thing, believe me.

Stage 5 of the painting.

Stage 5 of the painting.

The rest is kind of a blur for me, because I didn’t have to stop and re-do any section of the painting, nothing went wrong, nothing had to be rethought or reworked—everything went down right the first time. It was one of those magical nights, one of those magical painting sessions. I worked with the photograph of Laurens on the left and the acrylic sketch on the right, and used both of them as visual sources. The degree to which the painting was already worked out in the acrylic sketch was remarkable.

I also worked on the face in this stage of the painting. As you can imagine, the face can easily make or break a painting like this, so I was kind of nervous about it. Plus the face was one part of the acrylic sketch that was not worked out at all. But again, everything just fell into place pretty effortlessly, and the face just sort of came into being under my brush. I love when that happens!

Everything's working. The colors are right, the shapes are right—I love when this happens!

Everything's working. The colors are right, the shapes are right—I love when this happens!

Another magical thing was that the colors I mixed were right the first time. That’s another thing that rarely happens. When it does, though, it’s practically a guarantee that the painting’s going to work. When the first batch of colors is not quite right, though, it can sometimes kill a painting. So this was another very lucky thing.

As I was painting the background, I did make some minor changes. The biggest one was the addition of some earth red in the middle left. It just seemed to need a strong red there, so I added it, and I was right—it was just what it needed. (Then I used the same earth red for the genitalia.)

The painting is almost done.

The painting is almost done.

At this point I had the figure pretty much in place, so I could relax a bit and play as I painted in the rest of the background. And I did play: I had a lot of fun doing the background, because I already knew the colors were working, and the shapes were pretty well worked out already in the sketch. So I had fun with this part. When I finished laying in the background, the painting was basically done—all that was left to do was those little finishing touches that take a good painting and raise it another notch so that it doesn’t just sit there being beautiful—it sings!

Little things I did to finish the painting: I added a little bit of white in among the leaves in the upper left (it might be a piece of cloud, or not); I lightened Laurens’ hair on top; I added a little glow on the left side of the figure, along the back, so that the figure stood out more against the background; I added a band of light blue in the dark-blue field just to the left of Laurens’ butt; I did similar things to a couple of areas of the background on the right side; I gave another coat of white to some areas of the clouds to make them more white and opaque; and I added some white highlights to the body. And then, I signed it!

The finished painting: Koko Crater.
The finished painting: Koko Crater.

I have to say, I’m in love with this painting. I’m thrilled at the way things are going lately, because Palm Grove is also a painting I’m proud of and excited about. To do two paintings back to back like this is amazing. They’re both strong, major, breakthrough pieces and they both happened in the space of a week. As any painter knows, there are some real ups and downs you have to go through, and this is definitely an up period. And I’m loving it!

This is the photograph of Laurens I've just begun working with.

This is the photograph of Laurens I've just begun working with.

February 19-20, 2003, at the San Vicente Inn, LA (stopover on the way to Brazil): Spent some time sketching by the pool, from photos of Laurens. This is the first I’ve worked from these—just got them back a few days ago and haven’t had any spare time to sit down and draw.

One of the first rough sketches I did of Laurens lying in the dunes.

One of the first rough sketches I did of Laurens lying in the dunes.

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When I started to feel better in Rio, I started sketching some more visual ideas for the painting.

There’s one in particular I think might be interesting. It’s a shot of Laurens lying down in the dunes, in the shadow of some greenery. I like the way his body stretches diagonally across the picture frame. I see it as a stylized painting, very colorful. So I did a couple of preliminary sketches just to get things started—but it’s got a long way to go.

February 21, sitting in the airport at LAX waiting for Rio flight: I’m starting to ‘see’ a somewhat stylized painting of the image of Laurens in the sand dunes, lying back in the greenery, mostly in shadow. The composition is already good, and I’m beginning to see the color scheme too. I’m seeing purple shadows and a really hot orangeish-red body, I think. This is all just in my mind, I haven’t yet put any of the colors down on paper, but it’s getting clearer…

February 22: The Varig flight from LAX to Rio was hellish. I’m usually able to do some sketching while flying, but not this time! I felt like I was in a sardine can. For 13 hours! The cabin was hot, stuffy, overcrowded, I ran out of water, and the slight cough I’d had before I left turned into a much uglier thing. By the time we got to the hotel in Ipanema I felt terrible. For the next 4 days I was pretty much out of commission, sleeping 20 hours a day, fever, chills, all that. Yuch!

Starting to get clearer on how I want to stylize things.

Starting to get clearer on how I want to stylize things.

February 26: Feeling somewhat better today. Not great, but with enough energy to go to the beach for a little while—and to continue sketching on the Laurens picture. My intention is to stylize it quite a bit, and that always takes lots of sketches, to work out all the new shapes and make them fit together.

I’m trying different visual ideas on this, but all built around that strong diagonal of Laurens’ body stretching from upper left to lower right. Having a bit of trouble with the greenery/leaves—not quite sure what I want to do with that yet. But it’ll work itself out. I find that if I just keep sketching, sketching, sketching, trying different things, sooner or later everything falls into place.

With this sketch, I've worked things out sufficiently to try a color sketch.

With this sketch, I've worked things out sufficiently to try a color sketch.

February 27: I’ve continued to stylize the image, reducing/simplifying the forms, until I have a black-and-white sketch that seems to have the look and feel I want. The shapes are working together nicely to create a a kind of contained energy. I didn’t know it until I got it, but this is the kind of visual rhythm I’ve been going for with this piece. Now I’m ready to add color and see what that does! (I’m still kind of sick, but able to do a couple of hours of work on this every morning.)

I only needed to do one color sketch to feel good about the color scheme (that's lucky! sometimes i have to do several).

I only needed to do one color sketch to feel good about the color scheme (that's lucky! sometimes i have to do several).

I copied the rough onto another piece of paper in preparation for doing a color study. In the process I decided I really don’t like the bandanna on Laurens’ head and I took it off and instead gave him a kind of spiky blond head of hair. I like it. It’s not only cuter and more lively, it also works well with the shapes I’ve decided on for the greenery he’s lying in.

Color-wise I couldn’t be happier. The colors I’ve come up with for this color study are very close to what I was picturing. I think I’m ready to turn this into a painting!

I only needed to do one color sketch to feel good about the color scheme (that's lucky! sometimes i have to do several).

March 1: So far I'm sticking pretty closely to the colors in the color study.

February 28: Today I began the painting. Today was all about re-drawing the image several times larger on a sheet of smooth Bristol board, getting it as exact as I could, because the proportions of the shapes and the way they work together in the rough acrylic sketch is just right, and I don’t want to lose that.

March 1: The pencil drawing is finally right, so today I painted over every line of the pencil drawing with black paint. When that had dried, I covered the entire thing with a purple wash, my usual procedure. I took advantage of the time it took for things to dry by starting to mix my colors.

Then I started to lay in some of the colors. Working from the left side because I’m most concerned about how the colors and shapes of the head and shoulders and the greenery are going to work together. Also laid in some of the left leg and the background around it.

The upper image is from March 2, the lower one from March 3.

The upper image is from March 2, the lower one from March 3.

March 2: Continuing on the shoulders/leaves/upper body area. I love the way the shapes and colors of the greenery and the head and shoulder work together. I got lucky there. I also got lucky with the choice of colors for the chest and upper torso. The purple and red really work well there.

March 3: Did more of the background and the lower half of the body. I got playful with the penis and made it purple with a bright-red head. A bit of artistic license there. Like I haven’t been taking extreme artistic license with this thing from the very start! Anyway, everything is working well with the exception of the lower left-hand corner (there’s always at least one area that ends up being difficult, you know. Of course you can never predict where it will be). Not sure why it’s not working. I need to go in and screw around with it some, see what happens.

The final product. This acrylic-on-paper painting is called Boy in the Dunes.

The final product. This acrylic-on-paper painting is called Boy in the Dunes.

March 4: Getting some of my energy back—I’m able to work for longer stretches now. Today I did finishing touches all over the painting, and I attacked that troublesome lower-left-hand corner. The cute little fold I had put in the towel wound up being too busy and distracting, so I just straightened it out. That helped a lot. (Amazing how often simpler is better.) Then I worked some of the blue-grey into the towel, and added a little diagonal band of green, and things started to work a whole lot better. In fact, I finished the piece and signed it today. I’m really pleased with it, and my whole mood has been elevated. I’m feeling better and starting to enjoy being in Rio.

Laurens wears a bandanna a lot. He looks good in it.

Laurens wears a bandanna a lot. He looks good in it.

My newest model, Laurens, is from Germany. He’s been living in the U.S. for awhile, and he just moved to Hawaii from California with his girlfriend. I met Laurens through one of my old girlfriends, Gina, who now lives in L.A. Gina has a very sharp eye for gorgeous men, and she’s connected me with some of my best models over the years. Dwayne and Thai Michael, for example.

Anyway, Gina e-mailed me some photos of Laurens which I thought looked pretty interesting, so when he got to Hawaii, he came to my studio and I got to meet him and look at his face and body. He’s handsome, and he has a nice, lean body, but even beyond that, there’s something really sexy about the boy. Anyway, I decided I’d like to try doing a photo shoot with him. I had been out driving the previous week, out toward Makapuu, and found a spot I used to go to years ago which is a pretty deserted beach, and I thought it would be a good spot to shoot Laurens.

Laurens looks about 18 in this shot, but he's actually 22.

Laurens looks about 18 here, but he's 22.

So on a weekday morning we (Laurens, myself, and my surfing buddy Jimmy, who sometimes comes along to assist at outdoors photo shoots) drove out to that part of the island and traipsed around until we found a nice spot. We hiked from the road to the beach, which is not far but requires some navigating through thick bushes. I liked the bandanna Laurens was wearing so had him leave that on, and started by taking some shots of him shirtless. Then I had him get naked but leave the bandanna on. Very nice! This beach is not exactly lush and tropical–no palm trees–but there are some nice dunes and some green-leafed ground cover (don’t know the name of it), so some decent backdrops if you get a little creative. Main thing is, it’s a deserted beach, which is hard to find on Oahu!

Lots of rocky shoreline in this area, which makes for great backdrops.

Lots of rocky shoreline in this area, which makes for great backdrops.

Shot several rolls on the dunes, and got some nice stuff. Then we went into the water. Very rocky in this area, with lots of tidepools, so it’s really beautiful to work with. I had Laurens walk around on the rocks, perch on them, kneel on them, lie on them, etc. He’s easy to work with because he keeps moving, keeps trying stuff, which is what works for me when I’m shooting photos. It’s a lot of work to have to tell the model every move to make, which I often have to do. I can get good results that way, but it’s much easier when the model just lets himself be himself, move around and be playful. Laurens has the confidence—you could almost say cockiness—to do that. And it works.

Beautiful sunny weather, which is great for making images like this.

Beautiful sunny weather, which is great for making images like this.

We got really lucky weather-wise—we had a beautiful day, which is unusual lately because it’s been cloudy and rainy a lot. (That’s how it often is in Hawaii in January and February.) Anyway, the weather was perfect for the location: hot, bright, sunny. I got some nice images of Laurens wading and floating in the clear, shallow water of a tidepool.

I got lots of good shots of Laurens with his surfboard. This is one of the few that isn't frontally nude. (You'll have to wait for the drawings and paintings for that!)

Then I had Laurens get his surfboard and we did some shots with it, in the water and up on the dunes. He’s a shortboarder; his board is like 6’10, which to me is really short–I’m used to riding longer boards, like 8′ to 10′. He was telling me about some of the waves he’s ridden on the North Shore. Sounds like he’s pretty ballsy–which I can believe–and a pretty good surfer. It’s always nice when the surfboard is more than just a prop, but is actually a part of the model’s life.

The first photo session with a new model is always kind of exploratory. I’m thinking I got some good stuff, but also feeling like I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what I can do with Laurens. But that’s how I usually feel after the first session. Anyway, I have lots of stuff to work with and as always, I’m anxious to start drawing

By the time you read this diary entry, I’ll be on my way to Rio de Janeiro where I will not only be enjoying Carnaval and the summer weather, I will also be doing some drawing and painting. I’ve already begun a couple of drawings of Laurens, and I’m hoping to get some painting done as well, in between all the frolicking. When I return in early March, I’ll bring you all up to date.

Thanks again to Jimmy (the one who's not naked) for being such a great assistant!

Thanks again to Jimmy (the one who's not naked) for being such a great assistant!

I made Shawn walk in circles in unzipped shorts.

I made Shawn walk in circles in unzipped shorts.

Got the slides back yesterday from the photo shoot I did with Shawn several days ago. This was our second photo shoot, and went more smoothly than the first. For one thing, there were no equipment problems this time; for another, it’s Shawn’s second time working with me, and he’s more relaxed. Also, this one was at Dick and Kei’s house in Hawaii Kai, not in a public place like Diamond Head Beach, and I think the model tends to be more relaxed in a private place where nobody’s going to come along and interrupt the photo session.

So last night and this morning I went through the slides. It’s a very time-consuming, tedious process, going through over 600 35mm slides, one by one—and it’s also great fun. I love seeing what I got. There are always some disappointments—but there are also always some nice surprises.

Still looking good in those unzipped swimtrunks...

Still looking good in those unzipped swimtrunks…

We started in a sunlit area near the swimming pool. There’s lots of greenery there, which makes a nice backdrop.

Shawn wore a pair of red cargo shorts to the shoot, and I loved the look of them, so I began by shooting him posing in those. Then I had him unbutton and unzip them, so they drooped a bit, and had him walk around in circles so they would gradually droop even more. That was fun to watch. And, oh yes, it produced some nice images

The area by the swimming pool has a nice wall of greenery behind it and I liked the setting a lot. I wanted to see Shawn in jockey shorts, then I thought no, they should be WET jockey shorts, so I had him put on a pair and jump into the pool.

Then he got out dripping wet and I shot a whole roll of him walking around, stretching, moving, etc., in wet shorts. Some nice images, especially when he’s peeling the shorts off.

Shawn in wet shorts, Shawn stretching in the nude

Shawn in wet shorts, Shawn stretching in the nude

I continued with some nudes of Shawn walking around and stretching against the same backdrop of greenery. Again, some really beautiful stuff. (I can hardly wait to start drawing and painting from these slides!)
fotoshawn_wchandelier
Then we went inside the house, where there are lots of potentially nice backdrops. I did some shots of Shawn standing up in the dining area, looking over the railing, while I stood below in the living room and photographed him from below. fotoshawn_birdparadise
Kei & Dick have a really big, beautiful potted bird of paradise, so I did a whole series of shots of Shawn behind, in front of, sitting next to the plant. The shapes of the different parts of the plant are really beautiful, but it was quite a challenge finding a way to shoot Shawn in and among the leaves. Still, I found some interesting compositions.

Then we went over to the sofa and I had Shawn sit on it, kneel on it, lie on it, writhe around on it—anything and everything he or I could think of. I find this kind of challenging because I don’t want to just take a picture of a nude lying on a sofa—that can be nice, but I want the model interacting with the sofa in interesting, unusual ways. I got a couple of nice shots that I’m looking forward to working with.

Shawn being driven crazy by the ants in the backyard.

Shawn being driven crazy by the ants in the backyard.

Then we traipsed out to the backyard, which is really kind of a nice spot, with the sun shining through the leaves, an orange (or is it lemon? or tangerine? I have to ask Kei) tree, and lots of little ants! I had Shawn sitting and lying on the grass and the ants were driving him crazy. In spite of that, some really lovely images came out of this part of the session.

Then I ran out of film. Or I thought I had. So I told Shawn, We’re done! He said, Good, I’m going to go in the pool and cool off. So he did. And while he was doing that, I found another roll of film in the bottom of my bag, so I went out to the pool and did some more shots, telling Shawn to just keep doing what he was doing, the photo session was over, I’m just using up this last roll of film. And of course I got some of the best shots of the day, because he was no longer posing. That’s what I always go for in a photo session, but which is so hard to get—the model relaxing so totally it’s as if he isn’t even aware of the camera. But Shawn has relaxed a lot since the first time we worked together, and has become a pretty good model. I have a feeling he’ll be even better next time.

Shawn playing around the pool after I "ran out of film."

Shawn playing around the pool after I “ran out of film.”

 

UPDATE to this post:

In April 2012 I produced an e-book of uncensored Shawn photographs. You can view it and purchase it for instant download here.

 

This is the photo of Shawn I decided to work from.

This is the photo of Shawn I decided to work from.

Today I began work in the studio determined to make another stab at a stylized piece. I did some drawing to warm up, performing Picassoesque dissections on my models. Those I threw away. Then I did a drawing of Shawn walking on the beach which was hardly distorted at all, but I liked it so much I mixed up some paints and painted over the drawing. That one turned out nicely (it’s great when you have no expectations!).

I begin by doing some pencil sketches. The one shown at left below is fairly close to what I’m going for, but it needs to be even more dramatic. Still, I think I’m warmed up enough to start the final drawing (the one that I will actually paint over when I start painting).

One of the preparatory pencil sketches, and on the right, beginning to lay in the colors over the purple wash.

One of the preparatory pencil sketches, and on the right, beginning to lay in the colors over the purple wash.

I’m using a fairly heavy bristol for this painting, which allows me to do a lot of erasing and re-drawing on the underdrawing, which is good, because I’m still working things out. I make the horizon line slant down toward the left at an even more extreme angle and make the figure even larger. I like the energy of the drawing at this point, so I paint a purple wash over the top of it and while that’s drying, I mix my colors.

Key colors, I’ve decided, will be browns, earth yellows, blues and cadmium red, which is a hot reddish-orange. I start laying in the color at the top right because I always like getting the terrain laid in first—because I’m not good at mountains, hills and the like, so I want to get that over with. Surprisingly, the dry Diamond Head Beach slopes turn out fairly well.

I stopped at this point to go work out.

I stopped at this point to go work out.

Now I lay in the colors of the body and some of the ocean and beach around it. I start realizing I’ve been lucky, because the colors I initially mixed are working very well, with very little alteration needed. The same is true for the underdrawing. It’s wonderful when everything falls into place like this. At this point the painting is going beautifully but I have to stop and go for my afternoon workout. I’m a little worried that I will lose my momentum, but I hate the thought of missing my workout even more. So I go off to the Y.

A couple of hours later I’m back, and excited to continue the painting. Again, luck is with me—the momentum is still there and my decisions and brushstrokes are still right on. I’m doing something here that I often enjoy: letting colors ‘bleed’ out of their assigned areas. Letting the colors of the body run into the sky, for instance, or running some of the blue of the sky inside a shoulder or leg. I can get away with this when I’m using black lines to define forms. In fact, the black lines are so heavy, so powerfully literal, I feel I need to allow the colors to ‘defy’ them here and there.

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The final painting, which I've entitled "Stumbling Up the Beach."

Torano in Kei & Dick's pool

Torano in Kei & Dick's pool

This morning Torano came by at 9 am and then I drove us out to Hawaii Kai to Kei and Dick’s house. They have a great house, up on a ridge overlooking the ocean and Hawaii Kai, with a nice secluded backyard, and a pool. It’s a great location for photo shoots, and they’re super-generous about letting me use it whenever I want.

Torano and bougainvillea near the pool

Torano and bougainvillea near the pool

I love African-American men, and I love Asian men, and Torano is such a juicy, pardon the expression, combination of the two. From the first time I saw him I thought, That’s one of my fantasy boys! And he still is. From some angles he looks very black, and then from some angles the Japanese side comes out. And from any angle, he looks good enough to eat.

So with a wonderful location, and a very hot brown boy to photograph, how could it fail to be a great photo shoot? Oh yeah—the camera worked fine! And I had brought my spare just in case. But didn’t need it. I also brought the digital camera so I could snap some candid shots during the photo shoot, to use in my diary.

Torano getting dressed after the photo shoot.

Torano getting dressed after the photo shoot.

I was also very lucky in that it was sunny, after several days of kind of grey, cloudy weather. So I got lots of shots of Torano in and around the pool, and lots of stuff where he’s beside, or under palm fronds or other tropical foliage with the sun shining through the leaves—that sort of thing. He looks great in a “jungle-y” setting. (As we all know from the drawing “Jungle Boy.”)

Torano by the pool, just before we left.

Torano by the pool, just before we left.

He also looks good wet, in a pool. And dry, beside a pool. And everywhere else! But Torano is insecure about his butt. He thinks it doesn’t look very good. I told him, well, I have several thousand people who will disagree with you. But he’s like most of us; our insecurities about our bodies are hard to dislodge. Still, I took some pictures during this photo session that will at least give him some visual evidence that he does have a great ass!

I shot a lot of film over three hours today, and when we drove back from Hawaii Kai, both Torano and I were exhausted. Focusing that intensely for that amount of time really wears you out. But it was worth it. I should have the slides back by the day after Thanksgiving and of course I’m eagerly anticipating starting to work from them.

Torano shot this photo of me at the end of our photo session.

Torano shot this photo of me at the end of our photo session.