23 May 2009

¡Ali bomayé!

"Float like a butterfly..."
When we moved into our new palatial estate some four years ago, my beautiful bride requested, nay demanded (in a loving way, of course), that I paint something to cover the huge barren wall in our new palatial living room. Regardless of the fact that I do mostly pen & ink, black & white, very, very small sketches (doodles would be the most apt word to describe this body of work), & let's set aside entirely the fact that I'm colorblind as well, I could neither resist the temptation of the challenge nor the temptation of how happy it would make her.
So I set about finding an appropriate size canvas (5' x 7' I think is what it turned out to be) & appropriate subject matter. Muhammad Ali came to mind almost immediately as he had always been a hero of mine as well as hers, more for his political views & his staunch support of same than for his boxing prowess (which, in & of itself, was mighty indeed!). Here was a man who fought in the ring but would only stand for peace in the world. Here was a man who would not allow others to be subjugated, who would stand up to his government & speak the truth when it is not popular to do so, who would give up his livelihood so others would not have to give up their lives.
When I started the piece, I sketched him in pencil & left the image on the canvas for over three months; I was really happy with what I had drawn & was terribly afraid that paint would be the death of my Ali. When I finally started painting, it was a quick process & mostly intuitive, having never really studied the process. The most difficult part, I think, was deciding on what to put on his trunks. I wanted to replace the "Everlast" logo with something more apt~ less advertised, more idealized. When I hit upon "Believe", it made the piece really work for me.
It now hangs on our wall- some days I look at it & cringe & others, I'm quite proud of it... I'm not sure if seeing it in this context, one can really grasp the work as I think its size & stature really plays into its overall effect, but, nonetheless here it is.
Try to imagine this Ali, as he is in real-life- as big & bold a man as one could ever hope to see.
"...Sting like a bee"~


melissa said...

I was actually just thinking about the "fallin' asleep" strip that was about your being colorblind.

I'm looking forward to seeing this in person.

cyn said...

I love this painting and adore the man who made it for me.