Ink, watercolor, liquid acrylic and metallic paint marker on 22″ x 30″ watercolor paper
The majority of the time I try to find an approach to each portrait that best gets across the persona of the subject, but with this painting of Tommaso Ciampa it went the opposite way. I had an idea of an approach and went to find the right subject to go with it. I wanted to the figure straight-forward representational, use a deep blue flat background, and then apply gold paint for design in the background as well as for accents on the figure.
Ciampa, the NXT Champion, with his distinct ominous look and super-Italian name gave me that chance. He’s almost Rasputin-like, especially the way Mike Mignola depicted the mad Russian in Hellboy. Plus, this gave me a chance to apply some Ancient Roman mosaic patterns with the gold. When I was 17 I spent an afternoon at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City studying their collection of Roman mosaics thinking, “Some day this knowledge will come in handy.” Flash forward 21 years and here I am, making a paintin’ of a rassler and finally applying some art history know-how.
And here’s something wild: I shared that little bit of personal history along with a progress shot and the museum cross-posted it on their Instagram! Teenage me would think adult me is pretty cool, I think. Probably the closest I’ll ever get to having my work in the museum, but I’ll take it.
ANYWAY. On a technical level, I feel this is one of my best paintings to date. I think I really nailed the jacket especially, as far as the texture goes. I wanted to push myself on those sort of things.
Like, I want to almost trick your brain into making you smell the leather and to hear it creaking as Ciampa moves. Hey, I’m trying. I’m trying.
Hope you like looking at it as much as I enjoyed making it.