Joker Art Portrait Blog by Nick Pike
'Put On Your Happy Face'
Oil on canvas (70 x 100cm)
This artwork is my interpretation of Joaquin Phoenix becoming the Joker in the award winning film, released in the UK in October, which might well earn Joaquin his first Oscar..? The painting depicts shy, awkward Arthur Fleck getting into character as he applies make-up with his hand... or is he uncovering his real self by stripping the everyday face off?
Watching trailers of the Joker film, prior to its release, I originally had many ideas of how I wanted to express myself with this portrait but it was my girlfriend, Rita's suggestion to use the hand, which had the visual impact I was looking for.
Method Painting -
Occasionally, to get the perfect pose and make-up on an art portrait of someone else, you have to try it out on your own face, with a tub of Snazzaroo! I needed to accurately paint the fingers trailing down Joker's face, culminating in an awkward pose with the jaw resting on the hand. These selfies were essential in understanding how the make-up might be applied.
The Soundtrack -
I had a clear idea of how I wanted 'Put On Your Happy Face' to look but felt I needed to discard notions of perfectionism to give the Joker's face its raw edge. I believed the portrait needed to be painted in a somewhat loose and impassioned mood. I made two playlists; Joker and Joker 2 of emotive music on Spotify to get me in the right/wrong frame of mind, drawing on songs to which I had a close affinity.
This video shows the whole process, from pencil sketch, through gesso, to applying oil paint with sponges and finishing with paintbrushes..
When someone asks me how long a painting takes, I generally refer them to my time-lapses to see how many costume changes I go through and multiply this by about 4 hours! (the typical period of time I spend painting in one session).
Having revealed the painting on my Facebook page, I was really pleased with the comments, particularly the ones that said I'd managed to capture the very essence of the character from the screen. My visit to the cinema was extra special - I felt I knew this man pretty well, having spent long hours studying his psyche. I wholeheartedly recommend seeing the movie - catch it on the big screen while you can!
'Put On Your Happy Face' is on sale now - contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.