Wednesday, February 6, 2008

etsy shop: phraser
listing: Louis Armstrong candid portrait in two tone wood
artist: Drake

Drake's etsy shop, phraser, currently features three unique portraits on oak plywood. I am very impressed by the technique used on all three. Each portrait is "done on high quality oak ply, stained with a gun stock base coat and then a mahogany top coat for all of the dark areas," as described by Drake. I've tried doing something very similar in the past by "painting" stain onto various woods to create high contrast graphic portrait. I failed miserably. The stain bleeds like mad even if you use strong tape as a masking agent. I don't know what gun stock base is, but it does a great job. I'm happy to see someone make this technique work.

The feature of this blog post is Drake's "Louis Armstrong candid portrait in two tone wood". There's an ample amount of compelling things going on in this painting. (Yes, I call it a painting because he painted on the stain.) There's a great sense of depth in this portrait which is a nice visual play because of the high contrast imagery and simplified color palette. The seat of the chair against the wall is crucial in defining the depth.

The chair also serves an excellent background from which to define Armstrong's trumpet. I'd love to see tighter details of the trumpet area. I'm just amazed at how much detail Drake was able to attain with this staining technique.

Whether intentionally done or not, the background is partially defined by a wall which speaks to the use of oak plywood. It's subtly implied that the wall is made of oak.

And the most alluring aspect of this painting is the reflection in the mirror of Armstrong. It allows us to see two interesting portraits. The first is the large, dominant portrait of Armstrong on the left with its sharp details defined by open light. The other is smaller, subdued, mysterious mirror image bathed in darkness.


Drake said...

I wish I could take credit for any of the nice things said. All kudos and props should be given with the photographer who took the candid shot of the great Satchmo. I just saw the picture, knew it was an awesome candid and decided to get it on the wood. As for strategy, the biggest secret to getting the stain on there is that most of it is done with a q-tip.

Erik Maldre said...

thanks for the insights, drake!