Close Cropped Young Man in Profile, 11x14 inches oil on canvas panel by Kenney Mencher -Original ala prima portrait of a handsome shaved boy


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The hair style, closed eyes, and cropping of this image were awkward and hard choices for me. Part of it was that I was thinking of all those old St. John the Baptist portraits from the Renaissance and Baroque periods of art when I composed this.

I wanted the image to have that same kind of psychological charge to it. There is something about this that also recalls the weird relationship of the victims of the Holocaust who had their heads shaved as well as a relationship to the modern mislead young "skinhead" who doesn't realize who he looks like.

I played a lot with paint texture and the direction of the brushstrokes. After I had enough thick paint set down then I went in with the back end of the brush and carved some hatch marks into the hair I had already painted to add to the texture of the hair.

This is one of those paintings that I started in the morning and by late afternoon I had painted the whole thing. I'm kinda proud of that because many of my heroes from the Baroque era (Caravaggio and Velasquez painted that way and some more contemporary painters I love.

I'm a big fan of portrait painting in the vein of John Singer Sargent and Malcom Liepke. Often I find pictures of characters on the web and make quick alla prima portraits of people with cool or interesting faces.

("Alla Prima" Also known as ‘direct painting’, ‘au premier coup’ or occasionally mistakenly as ‘wet-on-wet’, alla prima is a one-layer painting technique in which the painting (usually painted from life) is completed in one sitting or while the paint is still wet.)

The color was designed with the idea of a cool warm color relationship. The blue in the background s designed to recede while his warm flesh tones project forward.

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