My new pup Astro joins Bingo this year for his annual Halloween portrait which is my canine tribute to one of my favorite Saturday morning programs growing up in Philadelphia called Cartoon Corners (aka the Gene London Show). It starred Gene London portraying an artist who lived near a haunted house called Quigley Mansion and had a tremendous influence on my career choice as well as my love of mysteries and the paranormal. His character, among other things, was always solving mysteries, encountering ghosts and finding secret tunnels and hidden passageways. All in all it was the perfect show for someone like me who also devoured Nancy Drew books and loved Scooby Do and Johnny Quest. He was a captivating story teller and would use his drawings to illustrate the tales. He truly made me believe that my dream of becoming an artist was possible, something for which I am forever grateful. I had the opportunity to meet Gene London many years later at a party here in NY and he was so warm and gracious even as I swooned all over him. This year's portrait is dedicated to him and his wonderfully enchanting show. You can see a charming interview with Gene London here.
I have been itching to do a portrait of a giant eyeball-headed man for longer than I can remember but the idea really began to take form about 5 years ago when I spotted someone in a similar costume wandering the West Village on the morning of the Halloween Parade. I confess that I trailed him for several blocks trying to covertly snap some photos. I rushed home to Google the subject and found that this particular costume was most likely inspired by the band The Residents who sported jaunty top hats on their giant eyeball heads and carried canes. I was also informed by a knowledgeable friend about the existence of Emerson's Transparent Floating Eyeball theory which is of interest but still cannot explain my personal preoccupation with the subject. I thought that my fascination surely must have sprung from my childhood obsession with 1950's sci-fi flicks but I cannot find one that features this type of monster. Feel free to enlighten me if you know otherwise.
In order to overcome his absurd physiology I felt that he needed to be portrayed realistically and so dressed him in true Victorian style complete with a jaunty polka dot vest to compliment the color of his "eye". I think he comes across as quite a gentleman and believe it or not having his portrait hanging in my bedroom does not disturb me in the least. This portrait expresses all the love I have for this spooky time of year and all the darkness and fun it conjures up.
His likeness is available in my Etsy shop in the form of prints, note cards, brooches, ornaments and coasters!
Even though we are still in the thick of August my thoughts are happily running toward Halloween. It is truly my favorite time of year, not just for the crisp smell of leaves and wood smoke but for the approach of spirits, goblins, witches and headless horsemen! It's been years since I painted a pumpkin headed man and I thought it was time to do one in a proper Victorian/Edwardian style complete with monocle and plaid vest to give him a distinguished air. I have added him into my Etsy shop Curious Portraits in the form of prints, note cards, coasters, ornaments and brooches as seen below!
I have noticed a surprising increase in Halloween themed sales in my Etsy shop Curious Portraits over the past few weeks and simply cannot account for it. I am happy to believe however, that the world is simply filled with fellow Halloween enthusiasts like myself who just never get enough!
This year for my Halloween portrait I chose the subject of one of my favorite poems, Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. I find such delight each year at this time in reciting Poe's poems out loud. His words just tumble and roll off the tongue. I imagined Poe's raven would be well groomed and dapper as was the style of the day and portrayed him as such.