Bringing a comic character to life: with FREE painting tip and insights.

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.

Does this guy teach workshops??

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!

yes, I want to know more!

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!!

I want this picture on my wall!

Why I love Paul Beel’s art: A letter from Guy

Why I love Paul Beel‘s art:
Because of what differentiates a craftsman from an artist.
A craftsman aspires to a level of technical excellence, meaning the end product reigns supreme. An artist aspires to always go further and explore new territories, meaning the process takes precedence.
Very rarely do the twain meet in one person, and someone who will master the one without sacrificing the other is even rarer.
Paul’s technical abilities as a painter would make the old masters sweat. Many painters I know would not only give their left nut (or boob) to be able to achieve this level of technical perfection, they would rest on their laurels if they even came close.
Not Paul. While never letting go of his extraordinary talent for detail and precision, he has always (since I’ve known him) pushed himself ever further by means of self expression. Ever moving from any comfort level he achieves to a place outside of his comfort zone. Ever struggling to keep that Tardis brain of his (it really IS bigger on the inside) interested and challenged.
And I admire that. Few are able to do THAT. I am not.

Look, none of the people reading this is rich. If you can, do what you can, buy one less (insert here) and give up a little for a true artist, because really? There are not many of them around.
Please feel free to share this post. Spread the word.

G out.



Notes on Nostalgia

Notes on Nostalgia

Yeterday I made (the final?) treck to a unnamed gallery in Norhtern Italy to collect one of my my paintings destined for a possible show in London. It’s six hours round trip, and I arrived, set up a dvd for the girls to watch and got down to the business of removing framing wood and staples to free the stretcher from the canvas, so that the painting (2×2 meters) can be rolled for shipping. I am an expert at this, and do not recomend you doing it unless you’ve first done it several times with minor works. The Gallerist was very nice and the handler cheerily helped me with the work. Before I left, i had to sign a few “authenticazione”. Authenticazione are basically photos of my painting, that I write “Autentico” on the back and pen my signature, which are then given to the paitning’s collector for h is archive. I was pleased to discover that one of these photos was of a painting I did in 1999, which I hadn’t seen since, as I forgot to photograph it before it left the studio. I aske if the photo could be sent to me on email. It could.
Three hours and several hundred Kilometers later, I opened my email in Tuscany to find the image waiting for me like a dollar bill discovered in the pockets of fresh-out-the -dryer jeans, all warm and soft. readers from Florence may recognize him as Erriquez, lead singer of the BandoBardòt, but then the file name begged for inquisition: it read: “Nostalghia.jpg.”
I’m fairly sure I would never have named a painting of mine “nostalghia!” particolarly with an “H” after the “G”. Has someone at the unnamed gallery been making up names for my paintings? Did someone there actually believe “nostalghia” was going to help it sell?? And, this last question ever more disturbing:

Did “Nostalghia” help it sell?

8 pm to midnight on the DLR.

I rode the Bank line today just for a change (not that its much of a change, I’m so focused on the interior of the train I don’t even notice the night flashing by, nor which stop I am at) Tonight was speckles of black and tan on blue floor, which change color gradually from left to right and as they recede. Very few of the usual questions tonight, only two people asked how long I’ve been working on this (which would be more impressive, if I said five years, or twenty minutes?), and no one asked me how much it costs. One woman did, however, ask me if I had a site in case she wants to comission something. This is a much better approach. Its tactful and doesn’t bring money to the fore, and I’m not forced to give a price in public that may start someone thinking about how much they can flog it should they decide to snatch and bail at the next station. Of course, it’s strapped to me, so they’d have to take me home too!But the site approach is right on. It makes me think she’s not someone that wants Rembrandt quality at Kmart prices, and leaves her the discretion to peruse my work and prices in private.

I talked to another guy for a few minutes. He asked for my card and if he could take a photo. For photos, the answer is always the same, sure, if you tweet it. 🙂

DLR project seeking sponsorship

You can sponsor Paul’s latest, exciting work on London’s Docklands Light Railway here.

Excerpts from the project description:

For my entry in this year’s BP Portrait Competition at the National Portrait Gallery, I’m painting 13 sitters on the DLR train in a dynamic 65×240 cm composition.  I also intend to produce a new animated video based on this unusual project.  To paint on the train, I’ve had to design and build special equipment to ensure public safety, tidiness, and portability. This was essential in allowing me to have everything I need at my finger tips without taking up more space than an average commuter. 

The DRL easel is supported by velcro straps which lash around my knees and ankles, giving me as much stability as one can hope for on a train, but the motion of the train is its most exciting aspect.  The swaying and accelerations give the brush marks an unpredictable character, and curious commuters  never ceased to be amazed that the work I’m doing can be accomplished under such circumstances.

Check out for more info, or watch the video, here: