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...