Corey Haim was a famous teen actor that lived from December 23, 1971 and recently died on March 10, 2010 (38 years old) as a possible result of a drug overdose.  It was known that Corey was troubled by drug addiction through out the later portion of his acting career. I remember him as Sam, from the movie "The Lost Boys," directed by Joel Shumacher in 1987.  He played the role of Michael's little brother.  Michael (Jason Patric) was lured into a family of vampires by "David," (Kiefer Sutherland.)  Corey played the role of Sam as a hyper active kid that tries to save his family from being taken over by the vampires of Santa Carla.  While vampires are scary, the movie has humorous undertones that make it a light and funny movie to watch.  When I heard that Corey Haim died, I didn't realize who he was at first until I put the name and his role as Sam from The Lost Boys together.  I have been wanting to break outside my comfort zone of painting just landscapes, and take on the challenge of painting a portrait of someone special.  Since The Lost Boys was an icon of my young adulthood as I used to watch it with friends in college while drinking, I decided to acrylic paint a portrait of Cory Haim as a tribute to his life and acting career. 

I began by mixing up some paints on some disposable pallet paper.  I started out with some primaries (red, yellow, green, and blue.)  I use a little spray bottle of water to moisten my paints.  It's good to keep the paints wet, because if they get too thick, the paint sticks to the brush too much, and won't apply to the canvas.  Then I mixed the red with white, and just a little sprinkle of black to dull it a little ( adds gray to it.)  This is the color I will use for the background.

With a half inch flat brush, I applied this color to my 16" X 20" canvas board. 


Then I added some more detail to the background.  I used a photo reference of Corey Haim, that I found online using a Google Image Search.  Here is the photo I used as a reference for this tribute portrait painting:

This photo is from http://www.rockthe411.com/general-discussion/corey-haim-dies-age-t549.html
He is in a comic book store from The Lost Boys, and someone has just grabbed his shoulder to alert him of the vampires in Santa Carla.  He has this funny expression on his face that says something like, "you guys are crazy!"
Making the background slightly desaturated will help for Corey to pop, and have more of a three-dimensional presence in the tribute portrait painting.

When I first begin a painting, there is a tendency to be intimidated and overwhelmed by the daunting task of filling up a blank canvas.  To combat this fear, I like to always keep moving, and not spend too long on any one particular area.  I'll come back to the background later.  At this point, I have made some decisions about where Corey will be in the painting.  I have mixed up some flesh tones, and described basic shapes of the figure against the background of the comic book store in the painting. 

It's important not to go too dark too fast, otherwise it becomes very difficult to make adjustments that will enhance the panting; bringing it closer to completion.  Using diluted colors, or colors that have been dulled down with gray, I added in Corey's distinctive facial features.  His smile was the hardest feature to capture, because his smile is crooked.  I had to look at the photo and understand what is going on in order to know how to apply the paint in such a way as to capture Corey Haim's essence in the painting.  His right cheek is flexed, which brings his mouth into a half smile.  As a caricature I would use a black Sharpie Marker Pen, and simply apply an upside down V shape, followed by a straight line underneath.  Then use sideways V's on the corner edges of his mouth to get the smirk action going.  Being a caricaturist, I apply the same thought process to the smile, only with flesh tones of paint.  It takes many layers of paint, and each layer has subtle differences in flesh tone, to get the organic flesh texture effect needed to make this painting more than a caricature.  Flesh is the hardest thing to paint, because it is transparent and it reflects light.  Some people believe that flesh is luminescent; that it emits light or an aura.  Corey's flexed-up cheek is red and puffy with a shiny highlight, because of a muscle that is bulging under his Caucasian skin, and his blood around that muscle is transporting oxygen and nutrients needed to keep that muscle working without tire.  It helps to have an understanding of anatomy and biology when painting people, animals, or any thing that lives.  The subtleties are slowly built in like the flavors of a delicious slow cooked stew.


It also helps to have a strong understanding of color theory.  When we mix colors digitally, we get white.  That is referred to as RGB color (Red, Green, Blue,) but when we use pigments like paint or ink, all of the colors mixed together make a muddy brown color.  In graphic design lingo we call that CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and for some reason K is referred to as black.)  When you don't understand how color theory works, mixing paint to get a specific color can seem impossible. This is something I want to gain a better understanding of, and at some point I may go back to school to get an MFA in painting.  For now, I'm not so concerned with getting the right color.  Instead I am going for an expressionistic style, and as log as I can use brush strokes to create a mood this will be a successful tribute portrait painting.


Almost done here.  I just have to add a few more details.



This is the finished acrylic tribute painting of Corey Haims by Stan Levine
painted on 16" X 20" canvas board in approximately 8 hours ( 2 days.)