I was visiting a friends gallery awhile ago and was asked about some of the projects I was currently working on. After offering some top secret information about various assignments, I mentioned a very interesting commission that was sitting before me. I said, "There's this really interesting piece that I've been sketching and about to start painting. It's H.P. Lovecraft visiting Sam Spade (portrayed by Humphrey Bogart) and Lovecraft is presenting a cthulhu statue, while Sam is displaying his Maltese Falcon." The explosion of laughter and enthusiasm from my friends at the gallery was exciting and it actually took me off guard!
I had known that I was fortunate to receive this commission but I didn't think anyone else would understand it or find it as exciting for me or for the patron who approached me. After all it was a personal request that the collector had been thinking about for sometime - and was waiting patiently for me to paint. In fact, when he first explained his idea to me, I immediately thought how awesome of a concept it was, but he didn't think it would be something that I'd be interested in or that I'd find it as cool of an idea that he'd been keeping to himself!
So, we discussed his idea in depth and did some rough thumbnails to capture his idea all while the "Maltese Falcon" played in the background. I wanted the complete back story so I could do his concept a deserved service and something that he can feel pride in. All I will say is that my friend, John is a big time detective, Maltese Falcon, film noir, pulp loving, fedora and trench coat wearing fan- who just happens to be a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan!
The BIG challenge here was a side view of Lovecraft to fit the rough we decided on. I had to get a good likeness to work from and all photo references that I could find were front view portraits and most were in shadow. The lighting for the painting was to be similar if not identical to the Sam Spade office set of the classic film. I also looked at paintings by illustrator, Harry Anderson for an overall emotional tone, and some composition inspiration. I wanted the painting to basically be that quiet moment when H.P holds up the artifact and the moment before Sam responds. Almost a pause or a reflection.
I had my model come in and do a photo shoot. My friend Dave doesn't look like Lovecraft but I knew I could work with him and I'd be able to get a solid foundation down. It took awhile and I almost lost heart but the pencil studies eventually "clicked" and I felt very confident that I had gotten a great likeness that people would respond correctly with.
Once I finished a rough drawing for presentation I waited for a response from John. I was mighty anxious to start painting but I'll admit that I was a bit nervous that John would have some comments. Fortunately he gave a call right away and it was all praise.
I immediately began and finished the painting in about a weeks time in between a variety of other deadlines and obstacles. "The stuff that dreams are made of."- Sam Spade.