Friday, July 29, 2011

Alan Ilagan Cheesecake Boy in Progress, Part 2

My new painting, Beach Bum, Starring Alan Ilagan, is progressing swimmingly, and I wanted to take a short break to share a little more of the concept. Previously, I posted a cropped version of the sketch focusing on the all-important "Pin-Up Face." Today's post is all about "The Situation." No, I don't mean the guy from Jersey Shore. I'm referring to the circumstances leading to our pin-up boy's wardrobe malfunction.

A glance through the archives of classic pin-up art shows us just how difficult it was for women to keep their clothes on. The streets are littered with obstacles when you're a Cheesecake model. Everything from stray nails... mischievous darts... curious crustaceans could result in a hapless flash of one's unmentionables.

And let's not forget gravity!

The inspiration for the scenario in my new painting, however, comes from an even more unlikely (but every bit as legendary) source -- the Coppertone Girl:

Tally Embry Advertising was certainly ahead of their time when they introduced this rambunctious pup and his pigtailed companion all the way back in 1953. And they have since become cultural icons! My interpretation isn't the first time this concept has been re-imagined as a pin-up opportunity. Both Carmen Electra and Marky Mark have been caught flashing their drafty derrieres with a canine prankster in tow.

So when I approached Alan Ilagan (writer, photographer, cultivator of exquisite tan lines) about casting him as a Cheesecake Boy using this concept as inspiration, I knew we had to come up with a unique twist. And thus I present another portion of the sketch, cropped to today's specific area of interest:

I thought that cute little cocker spaniel would be even cuter if he was replaced by a second speedo-clad hunk! Plus, I'm sure this feisty fellow is much more motivated.

Without a secondary model to execute the pose, Alan devised a brilliant way of achieving the same effect for the photo reference:

By the way, this photo was taken before "tan line season" set in, but one need only peruse the photo galleries on his website for a plethora of stellar examples. 

I love the effort he put into making sure the tugging of the speedo was just right! Meanwhile, that hook contraption might come in handy down the road:

I'm going to get back to work now! I hope you've enjoyed Round 2 of our little Peek-a-Boo game! There's much more to come...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alan Ilagan Cheesecake Boy in Progress, Part 1

As the intense heatwave continues outside, I am working diligently in my air-conditioned studio on a seasonally-appropriate new Cheesecake Boy painting -- Beach Bum, Starring Alan Ilagan.

If you’re a fan of good old-fashioned seaside debauchery, you should enjoy this one! Aside from all the exposed flesh coming your way, one important element in a pin-up painting that never gets its due is the facial expression of the model. Granted, this might not always be what the viewer notices first. However, the “oopsie” face -- a titillating combination of surprise and embarrassment with just enough of an arched eyebrow to make you wonder how accidental the wardrobe malfunction really is — was a crucial part of the cheesecake aesthetic honed by painters like Gil Elvgren and Art Frahm. Here are some gloriously cheesy examples:

When I started the Cheesecake Boy series, I wanted to capture that same “OH-NO-my-undies-are-showing!” expression in male form. Thus, I spent many hours in front of a mirror practicing my pin-up face until I had it just right. All you need is a mirror and a little determination! I recommend everyone hone their own pin-up facial expressions. You never know when you might find yourself in an accidental moment of over-exposure.

Thankfully, the subject of my next Cheesecake Boy painting, Alan Ilagan, is no stranger to disrobing on cue. In addition to the delightful musings on gay life I enjoy reading on his website, visitors are also treated to numerous photo galleries in which he takes his personal revelations a step further. It’s really a beautiful collection and I encourage everyone to check out his work.

I knew he would be the perfect subject for a summertime pin-up scenario, and when I contacted him to propose the idea, he was happy to drop trou for the sake of art. It’s not the first time he’s been an artistic muse either. Just yesterday I learned that Michael Breyette has also done a portrait of him -- a gorgeous, speedo-lover’s delight called Alan in Blue.

There’s a speedo involved in my scenario as well, although let's just say it doesn't do its job quite as well. More on that another time. Today it’s all about the pin-up face!

After sharing my concept with Alan and sending him some examples of what I was looking for, I was thrilled to receive a number of fantastic photo references from him. The brilliance with which he staged the wardrobe malfunction will be shared in a future post. Today, I present a cropped version of one of those pics focusing on his hilarious pin-up boy expression. I think it's a perfect male interpretation of the classics!

And here’s how that part of the composition looks in my sketch:

Of course I’m anxious to show you more, but we’re going to do a slow reveal on this one. Suffice it to say, I’m having a blast working on this and enjoying the opportunity to paint something completely different from my previous piece, Sanctuary. I love being able to switch back and forth between  serious work like that one and something more playful. And Alan is a great collaborator. I’m thrilled to have him be a part of my new painting.

Check back soon to see more of the work in progress. In honor of National Take Your Pants for a Walk Day tomorrow (yes, a real “holiday”), I will begin preparing a post that offers up all the details about Mr. Ilagan’s pants-dropping pin-up scenario. Until then, I’m going to cover my own ass by closing this post before I’m tempted to give away any more details...

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Sanctuary, oil on panel by Paul Richmond
My new painting, Sanctuary, evolved over the past several months during which we launched the You Will Rise Project, a website that features artwork, stories, poems, videos and other creative expressions by victims of bullying. Consequently, I began reflecting on my own experience of being bullied and used it as the inspiration for this piece.

I was constantly made fun of as a child for being effeminate, quiet, tall, and uncoordinated. My coping mechanism was to disappear into my imagination. There, I could explore fantastical worlds where bullying, self-doubt, and fear were never welcome. A gangly, awkward boy from the Midwest could become a fairy tale princess or a glamorous movie star. And when the white walls of home felt too confining, more enchanted surroundings were just around the corner. Art gave me a means of capturing my daydreams, making them real, and seeing the work of other artists meant being invited into their secret worlds too.

I’ve been deeply saddened to hear about the increasing number of young people who have chosen to end their own lives. I could never presume to know the extent of their suffering or understand all of the factors that led to their decision. It’s heartbreaking and tragic. My hope for everyone is that they can discover their own sanctuary — a place to restore, nurture, and protect themselves — even if it exists only in their imagination.

The original Sanctuary painting and limited-edition prints are available through the Lyman-Eyer Gallery here.

Sanctuary, (detail) oil on panel by Paul Richmond
Sanctuary, (detail) oil on panel by Paul Richmond
Sanctuary, (detail) oil on panel by Paul Richmond
Sanctuary, (detail) oil on panel by Paul Richmond