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Ralph Ellison
posted: June 5, 2007
Here's a portrait of Ralph Ellison, author of "Invisible Man", done for AD Michael Hogue at the Dallas Morning News. Michael suggested that we try to work in the idea of an "Invisible Man" somehow, so I thought that having the head fade in and out of the book's pages might be a good idea.

On the technical side of things, I messed around with some of the charcoal papers and brushes in Painter X, but that program is so slow that it started to drive me crazy. So I finished painting in Photoshop using a bunch of different brushes.

One of the things I like about doing portraits of authors is that I usually get sucked into their work and discover some great writing. I'm embarrassed that I hadn't read this great work before and I'm enjoying it quite a bit.
9 comments
Zina Saunders June 5, 2007
A great portrait, Dale. I really like the relationship between the shadows and highlights in this, and the clever solution to conveying "invisible". I also really like the hint of red in the whites of his eyes. I also really like the more painterly approach you took in this, with the looser brushwork.
David Flaherty June 5, 2007
Like the type! Nice job Dale.
Edel Rodriguez June 5, 2007
Nice job Dale. I like some of the roughness on the cheek. Is that painted in or some sort of scan? Nice linework on the drawing too.
Christoph Hitz June 5, 2007
Dale Ah a new summer pool header and a great portrait of Ralph Ellison. I love the edge and the type bleeding through. The balanced mix of precise and loose paint strokes makes this one my new favorite.
Roberto Parada June 5, 2007
Dale, Thanks for showing the sketch along with final. I think your piece has a real nice feel to it as well as the sketch. You have a great likeness of Ellison there. I'm wonder if you can get more textural with the digital? I'm kind of an ignoramus when it come to painting digitally as you well know.
Larry Ross June 5, 2007
Very classy portrait, Dale, in an interesting style.
Dale Stephanos June 5, 2007
Thanks for the kind words everyone. Zina - I'm always trying to be "looser" and then find myself "fixing" what I liked moments before. I'm inching along though. Tim - I hadn't thought of Tansy, but you're right. The palette and the way the text was handled is similar. Edel - Thanks. I used to spend a lot of time trying to get skin texture to look realistic, or at least not like wax. That's all "paint" there. I still enjoy doing the fine little details nobody gives a hoot about. Christoph, J.D., Larry - Thanks. Summer's here, I'll be by the pool if you need me. Roberto - Thanks. Digital texure always looks like digital texture to me. I'm still trying to get a more natural painterly, or at least not quite as digital, feel to my stuff. I'm on the path, but there's a long way to go.
rag June 6, 2007
Great sketch. Keep up the good work.
Overton Loyd June 10, 2007
Hey Dale, I'd be interested to know exactly what you're getting out of reading this particular novel. To be honest, I never quite got up the nerve to confront the book myself. I tend to avoid material that underlines what it feels like to be invisible in a society that seems committed to undermining your very existence. I'm miffed and paranoid enough as it is, fer' cryin' out loud! But your painting simply badd-azz! Just oozing with intriguing emotion. Thanks for sharing. O
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