Thinkers Coffeehouse Mural -detail 4

           Painting into the early hours of the morning let the exhausted and coffee-charged painters into humorous arguments, which in turn resulted in some prank ending up in the mural. For example, Beethoven's hair has been mousse with heavy jell to resemble a modern day rock star. This was after John had completed a more traditional portrait of Beethoven.

Friends, Romans and coffee drinkers!

           Also, Groucho Marx is giving direction to Joe Cobb in what appears to be a Shakespeare play (Joe was a popular character in 'Our Gang' before the series of shorts was renamed 'The Little Rascals') Notice that Groucho is is holding a copy of the play. The title page reads: "Friends, Romans, and Coffee drinkers: An adaptation of William Shakerspeare's Julius Caesar" -by Alfalfa.

           Some more trivia: Spanky is holding up a copy of the 'Cleveland Examiner' with a headline that reads 'Celebrity Bash At Thinkers'. This actually was the real name of the mural though it never caught on. At the centre of the picture you will notice the only personality in the entire mural not facing the viewer. But his trademark thick glasses, long bushy sideburns, and his penchant for square pattern jackets give his identity away. He is none other than the great thinker Isaac Asimov.

The initial modelling in soft greys.

Adding contrast with highlights and shadow glazes.

Initiating colour glazing beginning with dark colours.

Finished portrait after a series of glazes.

           When painting figures, John would begin by doing the under-paint in tones of gray -like a black and white photograph. This allowed him to work on form and value without having to deal with colour. After the under-paint dried he then applied colour in many thin layers of semi-transparent paint without having to worry about loosing the likeness already achieve in the under-paint.

           This technique, although time consuming, produced beautiful translucent skin tones. John explains the process as applying makeup to a face. For the most part, he painted all the portraits in grey tones and, when he was satisfied with the likeness, Karyl would initiate the application of colour which can take several days as one layer needs to dry before applying the next.

See the other images of this mural to continue the commentary.

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