Much like the Madonna during the Rennaissance, the Joker is a standard with which contemporary artists can work their own interpretation. This is mine.
It started with Harley…
She wasn’t really meant to be Harley, but a good client who is a Joker fan saw it and immediately decided it was Harley, and so she was.
As both his wife and I immediately thought he just can’t have a Harley without a Joker, a conspiracy for a Christmas comission was forged.
I asked my friend and fellow artist Luca Matti to lend his face to my Joker. Luca has the long, angular features I was looking for, and a touch of madness in his eyes as well. We took hundreds of fotos.
(Here’s and important and totally free tip for you photo realists…make sure you get great fotos to work from. Learn about bouncing light levels and light colors and take hundreds of variations of your theme…photorealism is a marathon process…you don’t want to get halfway through the race realising you are bored of your subject. Rich colors, purposeful lighting, strong subjects. Always. )
Giving a nod to Heath Ledger’s make-up, I elongated his brilliant grin, to become a bit more baroque. Later, with imagination and paint, I snipped away the corners of his mouth. For the rest of his make-up, I choose a very assymetrical, almost prison tattoo quality, to reflect his instability.
While I felt sure of my model, he didn’t align with the client’s image, so I eventually made a Ledger for her.
But that didn’t stop me from continuing to define my own Joker.
I modified Luca’s eyes quite a few times. First, I raised his left eyelid, which would be pulled up by the arched eyebrow. I also experimented with eyes of different colors in reference to Wotan from the Master and Margherita…but the effect didn’t convince me. Then, I tried a different tact.
His shadowed eye is contracted, while the lit pupil dilates, the exact opposite of healthy eye reflexes. He is messed up and rotten. And, stealing from the tattoo meme man, I’ve finally tattooed his eyeballs black.
I’ve been pushing portraits around like this for a few years now, and I’ve also been teaching others how to bring more humanity and realism into their drawings and paintings, while advising students on how to create more gripping compositions. If you are around Cleveland this August, find out about my workshop by clicking here!
The collaboration came full circle when I asked Luca, during one of our inspiring studio visits, to draw one of the floating mines in his style.
Thank you Luca!!