Holding a teddy bear hostage while flaunting an arcade machine gun and goggles may be a geek’s mojo. It’s also a characterization of video game-obsessive Hyoung, a close friend of student illustrator Giancarlo Alicea. “Hyoung has a vivid imagination and a wry wit. He’s a happy guy who is also serious and driven,” says Alicea who sought classical means to capture his friend’s duality.
“Hyoung Uncommon” was a product of “classical portraits re-imagined,” Prof. John Nickle’s assignment for a fifth semester illustration class. Students applied classical painting techniques and a “contemporary spin,” to an acrylic painting. It struck Alicea as an opportunity “to make a post-apocalyptic video game character seem magnanimous.”
Alicea chose a pharaonic pose and an undefined background, so that the focus would remain on his subject — a trick of the old masters. “The lack of extraneous detail helped focus the piece.”
Says Prof. Nickle, “The portrait of Hyoung is both sensitive and comical.”
Alicea completed an early drawing, “mapping the value relationships and figuring out composition.” He then worked on an “in-progress monotone painting,” a technique “of painting in values first in order to glaze in colors on top. It helps give the final painting good luminosity.”
“I love seeing the sketch with the finish to reveal some of his process,” says Prof. Nickle. “Giancarlo made constant revisions to the finished painting, which continued even after the semester ended.”
From the earliest concepts to the actual painting, says Alicea, “Prof. Nickle was a source of wisdom and support. Without his help I wouldn’t have had ‘Hyoung Uncommon’ in my portfolio.”