Though this portrait was a commissioned work, there still existed a vast creative potential for exactly how the scene itself would unfold. As such there was a fair amount of transformation from its inception to its conclusion.
To begin, I rooted the image with a representation of a boy, as seen below:
There was minimal planning, as the intended approach was to allow the painting process to a great extent to lead its own transformation. The only concrete figure was the boy himself, which would be static and the least given to the creative whims of mutation. As such, he was a good place to begin, as the composition would form with respect to him as a sort of initial frame of reference. I knew the work would have some dramatic light and dark effects, and to begin I applied red earth tones to the background, and blocked in the boy's shirt. I modeled his hair style and applied the first layers of his face and skin.
At he end of this process already some proto-structures had begun to show themselves in the paint, particularly to his right side. I also knew that there would be mutations encroaching from behind him and from the left, so next I started the exploration of those emergent forms:
What resulted was the beginnings of a creature which felt very much a hybrid of fungus and animal. Some creepy bony appendages jutted out at angles near his neck and ear. The conglomerate of forms on the left side needed some more realization before I could begin to move into other areas. Green fungal projections emerged, like small glowing mushrooms, but with a concave vestigial ear-like topology:
Next, I needed to begin to materialize a primary alien figure to face the boy in an interaction that was eye to eye, so to speak. His hand gesture suggested a reaching out at something he was seeing. A rather complex, hovering organism started to take shape in the air before him. Also at his time a crow took root near his shirt at the bottom of the painting, and the mutations to his right side in the mid ground revealed their intended character. It was during the appearance of the primary alien, also, that the boy's face and hand started to become illuminated more intensely:
At this point I had a very rough framework of the major characters in the scene. Now was the challenge to figure out how they would mature and balance into their final forms, and in doing so begin to inform the compositional elements in between them. The hovering alien gained a number of features, including a radial fin and feathers, an angler like projection at its top with monarch butterfly wing characteristics, and more. The boy's shirt also needed adjustment--a longer sleeve and the suggestion of cloth folds:
From here I needed to do a lot of work to find the creative path that connected everything together in the composition. A moon appeared haloing his head--a kind of relevant narrative element pertinent to the story behind the character. Snake like forms, and froth appeared on the lower left side, strangulating the crow. Also on the bottom to the right side a brooding mutated maw emerged, like a Venus fly trap from hell.
At the boy's left side near his ear the figure mutated considerably, taking on a fleshier appearance, and reminding me somewhat of an alien face hugger. The boy's throat was softened with new layers of detail, and his shirt also found more detail in its folds.
The prime hovering alien found itself lit up in a variety of ways as it began to project filamented energy toward the boy to communicate.
The work now was near completion, but he needed a graphic on his shirt, and the composition as a whole needed to be cleaned up and finalized. I went with a number "33" graphic.
The final form:
"The Dreamer", Oil on Canvas, 40cm x 60cm (approx. 16” x 24”), 2019
A commissioned artwork for a graphic novel project
In this image a boy finds himself within a vision of a cornucopia of mutations. Their forms encroach so much they threaten to overwhelm him. At left are a mass of denizens, exhibiting mammalian, fungal, plant, snake, and bird characteristics. Many of its junctions froth with tiny bubbles, as if still in the process of a fermenting metamorphosis. The least mutated member of the group is a crow, mouth open and facing vertically in a soundless “kaw!” as it is absorbed into the mass.
At lower right is a particularly toothy creature; something akin to a giant chlorophyll green membrane, thick and embedded with innumerable eyes setting above a dark maw passively laying in wait.
In the middle beyond the young man an entity yawns wide a beak-ish mouth, around which are more spiny and pincer-like projections branching out of a segmented green skin existing corporeally somewhere between amphibian and plant. Its teeth are like maize covered in a thin cataract. Further still in the distance are a variety of strange eyes and a mushroom cap with human teeth.
Hovering before the boy is a psychedelic alien, communicating via its manifestation as a nexus of colors, forms, and shapes spanning the spectrum from butterfly to bird to fish to mandrake vegetation and more. Its left most projection precipitates into glowing blue-green worm-like transparent fingers, from which a broadcast of blue filamented energy engages the boy’s mind.
Haloing the boy’s head is a dim cratered moon setting against a dark starry sky. His face and throat are illuminated by an unknown and intense light source, as is his left hand which reaches out gingerly to touch the alien vision before him.
The narrative speaks to a reflection concerning transformation and its relationship to identity. The character’s hand gesture and the number “33” on his shirt foreshadow his own spiritual potential, catalyzed by the interloping influence of the psychedelic alien presence.