With this series, I took a different spin on traditional portraiture by painting a series of Pop Art-style portraits. For my subjects, I chose five people from across a range of cultures whom I believe to be inarguably great advocates of world peace; some are widely recognized, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa, and others are not as well known, such as Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Though each individual represents a different cultural or religious background, what they each have in common is their belief that inner peace is vital to produce authentic change.
Each portrait is painted in acrylic on a 32 x 46 inch canvas. Painting with acrylics gave me the freedom to use a hard-edge painting technique, which lends the portraits a contemporary Pop Art quality. I chose mostly serene photographs of each person and painted each portrait in bright, unnatural colors to create a shocking contrast to the poses. I included three dimensional elements, such as rhinestones and gold-leaf to make each portrait more dynamic, as well as to draw interest to details that are significant or perhaps symbolic.
With each portrait I tried to capture the "color" of the subject's personality. I chose subjects from different cultures and religions because I wanted to express the importance of every culture working together for peace in the world. The color schemes were meant to express unity and harmony, and that the color of one's skin should be of least importance.
This series was influenced by the work of Andy Warhol, one of my favorite artists. His approach to traditional portraiture was shocking, yet undeniably appealing and fascinating. I borrowed his idea of painting celebrities as icons, as well as his technique of painting in flat, graphics-style color, but I added a personal twist by excluding black from each painting and adding three-dimensional elements. I worked up a general color-scheme digitally (in Photoshop), but then altered the colors during the painting process. My hope was that up-close portraits in bright, beautiful colors would be magnetic and unforgettable, as were these people of peace.