This is a recent piece I did of Steve Martin from the poster for the Jerk, for an old friend. It is a perfect example of the extreme jump from one form of painting to another.

Photo by: Cat Gwynn

On the one hand, the end goal of a detailed likeness (and doing a good job of it) to the freedom of creating shapes and using color without that particular pressure, just the joy of it AND the goal to do a good job of it (still considering the formal issues of the aesthetics of abstracts from what little I know of art history). I’m still informally a student of it.

I didn’t use a grid system for accuracy or a “light table” to trace it… I seldom use those tools (but will in a pinch!! hahaha). I painted it upside down and would check the accuracy by turning it right-side up. My eye gets some training in the process and seeing the end result, once I’m convinced it’s a strong piece, the best I can do, is very gratifying. Its a method I got from the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”. The author has a new version you can find here-

However, it can be a very intensive mindset that takes a lot of focus. You start to see the shapes between the shapes. It focuses on negative space which makes it about putting the puzzle pieces together. I lose time doing it as well (doing my best to get an accurate likeness) but painting abstract shapes and forms, with no restrictions, is a very welcome “something” to bridge the gap and relax my eye and mind… even though making an abstract has its own inner restrictions and rules to me as well. It always feels like a pleasant intellectual exercise… like a good math problem.

To purchase this painting and any Chris Bonno original or print, click here:


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