The Declaration of Independence, the Spirit of 1776
As an artist, one of the great challenges I find is trying to understand beauty. In my expressionist/impressionist work, I work with masses of layered lines of all different sizes, gages and shapes . Lines define everything we see and yet not everything is beautiful. It is argued that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is obviously some truth to that. But my search has led me to conclude that there are underlying lines that create shapes that ultimately are either beautiful or ugly. And those lines speak when arranged in a composition as to whether that composition is beautiful or not.
At the time I painted the Trump Painting I was buried in trying to understand these concepts. I found a book by William Hogarth called the Analysis of Beauty(1753) which was born out of a similar struggle of trying to understand and define beauty.
'Unafraid And Unashamed' was painted on the spot without any planning. There are no sketches except some digital images of parts of eagles used to compose the eagle in the painting. But as I heeded the inspirational impulses that were driving me to paint the image in my mind, careful attention was made to deliberately create a composition of beautiful lines, with the hopes that the end result would be an image built upon a structure of beautiful lines which would ultimately delight the eye and transmit the sense of the sublime.
As a symbolic painting, my goal was to communicate the narrative rather than reproduce and create a portrait that exactly looks like Donald Trump.
During the summer of 2015, right at the start of Trump's campaign, the expression 'Trump's meteoric rise' was often used in the media. As I was painting what I believed to be the future, as Trump is presented as the President of the United States, it was also impossible not to record history as it happened.
So as I came to the hair, I was challenged as to how I would represent it. I had tried different looks, but nothing excited me. Then one night, as I listened to Don Maclean's 'Vincent' (Starry Starry Night) as I painted, the composition of Van Gogh's painting was brought to mind as I knew it well and I remembered the 'ying yang' comet or meteor shape right in the middle of the painting.
I was painting a cosmic scene, a starry night scape. Trump's hair is iconic as it is particularly something with which Trump is recognized and associated. Trump's meteoric rise was taking place, the lines of beauty were calling me to inject the shape with them, that swirling Van Gogh image played in my mind and so as the hairs on my arms stood on their ends I painted the Trump hair to look like hair but to be a meteor that is actually not sitting on his head.
The end would be a meteoric shape recording history, capturing an iconic feature that resembles Trump but like the rest of the painting is something more...