I’ve never been very good at portraits. For a while, I told myself that painting portraits was like playing sports; you either had a knack for it, or you didn’t. I’ve been fortunate enough to be friends with several other artists who do have the portrait knack- friends like Yina Kim, Alek Morawski, and Benjamin Wheatley.

But if I want to be an illustrator, I figure I have to work at doing portraits. Maybe I’ll never find any joy in doing them, but at least I’ll be able to do them.

To make practicing a little less painful, I decided to do a portrait of someone I greatly admire- Orson Welles. I feel like not a lot of people know this, but he was pretty handsome back in the late 1940s/early 1950s. At least, I think so.

I wanted there to be some sort of theme to the portrait based of Welles’ own work. Instead of going with the obvious (War of the Worlds), I went with the delightfully confusing noir-murder mystery The Lady from Shanghai. Welles wrote the screenplay, directed, and starred in the film alongside his then-wife Rita Hayworth.

Because I’m such a big Welles fan, I had no problem with staring at his face and trying to get the details just right. And it was an absolute joy to paint a tiny Rita Hayworth as a literal dragon lady.

While it’s not spot on, I can say with confidence that this is one of by better attempts at portraiture (the best still being my portrait of the aforementioned Yina Kim). To see a larger version of the image, please go here.


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