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James Ellroy
posted: September 17, 2010

Over the past year or so I've been day dreaming about creating hand made things again. A few years ago when I was buried under a pile of work, I vowed to learn how to work digitally. I did and never looked back. It was a good decision - I could do twice the work in half the time and to my eye it looked just as good if not better than my painted work. And changes? Ha! No problem.
 
But in keeping with the grass is always greener philosphy, I started wondering if I'd ever paint again. And then wondering if I could. So a while ago I stumbled across an A3 size Moleskine sketchbook that's perfect for no stress, low pressure painting situations. I'd hesitate to call this experimental, rather just learning how to walk again. It's fun. Yes, FUN!
 
Oh, this cat is James Ellroy, one of my favorite authors. If you enjoy conspiracy theories told in a Charlie Parker like machine gun delivery, Ellroy will be right up your alley. It started as a doodle while I was on the phone taking notes on a job and grew into this oil painting. I think the photo I was looking at was in Time. It's been recycled so I'm not sure who the photog is.
20 comments
Steve Wacksman September 17, 2010
Omigod, Dale. That's absolutely beautiful. Outstanding. I know you're not gonna want to hear this, but that's my favorite piece of yours I've ever seen. Please do more of these and keep 'em coming. The strokes on his collar and the highlights on his forehead are just masterful. One of my early jobs was illustrating a Christmas memory written by Ellroy. I unfortunately had no idea who he was at the time or I could've basked in the honor.
Marc September 17, 2010
Nice piece, Dale. I'm a sucker for traditional materials, and this piece does things no computer could achieve. As Wax pointed out, the collar and forehead are spots one gets swept up in. Nice work.
davey September 17, 2010
I feel like I can reach out and touch him Dale!
Victor Juhasz September 18, 2010
Dale, there's a quality here that makes that quantum jump from a computer generated image. You can run but you can't hide from the human touch that is evident here. I get a great Lucien Freud vibe. Very nice. Very strong.
Brian Stauffer September 18, 2010
Jesus, dale, that is a remarkable piece.
Joe Ciardiello September 18, 2010
This is a beauty, Dale.
Adam McCauley September 18, 2010
More paint, less pixels!
A.Richard Allen September 18, 2010
Extraordinary, Dale. Encore!
Mark Fisher September 18, 2010
Or is it 1/2 a work in half the time? Dale this is IT!
harry September 18, 2010
Wish I could do that. Definitely has a quality that the digital doesn't. Does look like you did some digital touch up. like upper right on edge of head, or am I imagining it?
Tim OBrien September 18, 2010
Nice oil study Dale. I do see a hint of photoshop here and there too. Nothing wrong with that at all and perhaps that's where you should take a few of these jobs. Do them old school and tweak new school.
Kyle T Webster September 18, 2010
Very nice painting, and it has real depth, despite having been painted from a photo (not easy to do, unless painting from life- and then, still not easy to do!).
Dale September 18, 2010
Thanks everyone. Wax, I think this is one of those pieces where I'm trying the find the love in what we do. I'm glad it came through. That sounds like an intimidating gig. Marc, thanks. It's all I can do not to smooth out any brushstrokes. Davey, go ahead and touch him. Vic, thanks! I love Lucien Freud. Never entered my head, but if there's any bit of that coming through the hands I'll take it. Brian, Joe, Adam, Mark, A.Richard(where ya been?) thanks. I'm a big of all of you. Harry, Tim, aside from color tweaking to try to match the original, the only digital shenanigans going on here is that I softened the edge of the ear where the scan made it look much harder than it really is. I'm not that up on my scan correcting. Unsharp mask maybe. I don't know, sometimes scans seem to strip away several layers of work.
Dale September 18, 2010
Kyle, thanks bud!
Douglas Fraser September 18, 2010
As some one who works digitally , and traditionally, I see each one for it's own beauty. I've found that certain subtleties get lost from one to the other. There's always been an ass backwards quality about using computers to replicate traditional media in my humble opinion. You pointed out the speed, and I would think alterations are easier on a computer. I suppose the big difference would be that you use Photoshop, and my digital work is mostly Illustrator vector work. It does make me happy to see your still painting with traditional media, as I do believe the two inform one another.
nwright September 20, 2010
WOW- Dale - this rocks. What ever happened to the unfinished pickel piece?????
Jim Paillot September 20, 2010
Really fantastic. Looks like you picked up where you left off. I love the unfinished quality of the collar and how it works with the detail of the face.
john cuneo September 20, 2010
Good to see you flexing those old muscles. Looks to me like you're still cut.
Dale September 20, 2010
Douglas, yeah, it's funny, when I work digitally I try to make it more hand made looking, and when I paint I'm always disappointed that it's not slicker. Jesus, I'm a finnicky cat. Nick, thanks. No idea. Thanks Jim! John, it's not muscle!
Leo Espinosa September 24, 2010
It's not just all the great details, this painting has a soul, man.
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