I first met Sargent not in art class, not in art history class, but in my 8th grade American history class. My class was doing a unit on the beginning of the 20th century and the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. There were numerous photographs of Roosevelt in the textbook, but the one image that stuck out for me and my 13 going on 14 year-old brain was the painting of Roosevelt… the “official White House portrait”. There was some super small text in the corner: JOHN SINGER SARGENT.
It’s not often that you see a barely teenager in the school library looking up John Singer Sargent…
The idea of this self-portrait was staring me in the face. Specifically, the rear view mirror in my car. I’d just left the grocery store, loaded all the bags, clumped myself down in the drivers seat and looked up. I hadn’t moved the mask off my face yet. There I was. It was me… along what the times dictated I be. Not a requirement… a suggestion.
My mantra in regard to what I create has always been to tell a story and invoke an emotion. Words help, but they’re not always needed. If you can show a beginning, middle and ends with a single image, you’re better than you think you are. Years from now, someone will see this somewhere and wonder how we got through it… how some managed and some did not.
At the end of the show, there would always be a life lesson moment… to make sure kids learned something while being psychically compelled to beg parents for action figures and vehicles. Timmy would do something bad, one of the Joes would call Timmy out on his crap, teach him that he messed up and he was now a better Timmy. The kid who messed up would always say, “Now I know.” And the Joe would ALWAYS reply “…and KNOWING is half the battle.”
To this day, 35 years later, WHENEVER someone says, “Now I know” I ALWAYS say (out loud… not to myself) “…and knowing is half the battle… GI JOE!”
Dudes my age get it. If they hear me, I get a knowing nod. Sometimes, I even get help saying the line. It’s a thing that only we understand. That, and we’ve been programmed to do it.
So, it’s G.I. Joe action figure art style for the next series. YO JOE!
Now, as with the previous Hopper series, I felt the need to do every member of my family individually. The motives are purely selfish – I dig Modigliani’s work and want to do more. I genuinely feel at home in his style. But, I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or three diving into his work.
Hope you enjoy this next series… I’m just as eager to see what I’ll do as I hope you are.