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...


This is way too cool! Can't wait to see the finished work... Thanks Paul!
Jorge said…
even as a work in progress it looks amazing...can't wait for what is comming

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