Certain cinematic characters grab you, and resonate for years. Daniel Day Lewis‘ brilliant turn as Bill The Butcher in Gangs of New York is one of them.
The most interesting man of his era, with a glass eye and a top hat.
This is the frame I used to capture The Butcher. It’s the moment he sees Young Vallon for the first time as an adult, helping the spineless kid who played Avery in Suicide Kings out of the fire.
A moment foreshadowing events to come, I cropped the picture to format, toyed around in Photoshop and got to work. After the jump, my full process.
Recently, I’ve been focused on positive and negative space, painting vast un-collaged swatches of canvas. I’ll admit, I really wanted to use the word vast, which can scarcely be taken seriously on a 30″X30″ canvas.
His hat, made up of headlines, and his unwounded shoulder, facing the future battle with Young Vallon, and a judicious city of tomorrow in which he could have never survived.
The mustache is a swatch of the darkened NYC skyline…
A visual shout to the animated Miramax animated logo.
The orange and red under-painting to warm up the picture.
From time-to-time I get confused on a painting… this was that moment. To top it off, this was the stage I left the canvas to head to Thailand and China for a month. I dreamt of this painting nightly on my journey.
My first session was focused on making sense of the face. This initial effort was too contrasted, but grounded things. The Oath of the Horatii in his lapel…
The target on his left shoulder, marking his wound… there are moments when a painting turns the corner… this was that moment.
His lid felt a bit flat, so I went in with some secondary tones to pop the top (hat).
Oh so close… I had a lot of fun with the jacket, getting in there and letting myself paint without restriction.
And there he is… as aptly defined by the Hall of the Black Dragon: “He was a flawed patriot, a warrior, a butcher (that was his actual day job) and a man of honor. Imagine all of these things mixed into a tall, lanky, one-eyed panther of a man and you have one dangerously complex sonofabitch.”
Bill The Butcher Day Lewis joins Mickey O’Pitt…
And Hunter S. Depp… stand by for what now? What comes next?