Sazan and Stevie

 

Sazan and Stevie

 
The first time I saw this picture, I knew I had to paint it. I’ve known Stevie Hendrix since he was in elementary school, and his wife Sazan is just as lovely as can be. But it’s not like I started on it immediately. These things take time, and there’s the right way to go about them. No project is the same, but here’s how I went about this one. 
 
 
Stage 1: 
 
Print out a black and white image of the picture and leave it on the wall of my studio for about a year. I wasn’t looking for inspiration or anything like that. I knew just how I wanted to paint it. Though all of the different projects I took on, I’d look at the picture and know what I was going to do with it. I just needed the time. 
 
 
 
Stage 2
 
Once completed everything else that was in the way, I got started by putting together the layout in Photoshop. Then I began on the canvas with a drawing. Once I was satisfied with the way it flowed, I dived into my favorite part — the dress. 
 

Stage 3 

 
To start with, I used a metallic plaster to create the texture of the fabric and then I worked silver leaf and gold leaf into the painting so the dress on the painting mimics the actual fabric of Sazan’s dress.
 
 
Stage 4
For anyone wondering why I treated this piece like a plein air painting — I had the joy of a deadline to help me get finished. My friend Stephanie is Stevie’s mother, and she was getting ready to leave for California to deliver the piece. So my final day of painting happened to fall on a day of my girls’ volleyball camp, which meant that I brought my stuff along and set up as if I was painting a landscape. 
 
 
Stage 5
 
And here’s the finished work. Stevie and Sazan called me to say how much they loved it, and Stephanie was so happy to have been able to surprise them with it. 
 

Unexpected setback and surprise

Early one Saturday morning not long after the art show, my middle son, Gideon, came into our room coughing, wheezing, and barely able to breathe. Dale took him to the emergency room, and when they weren’t able to stabilize him there, they transferred him to Dell Children’s Hospital.

The rest of the kids and I caught up with them there, and after a half an hour with him it was obvious that he was a sick little boy. They didn’t know what was causing his breathing issues, and he wasn’t responding to the treatments they were giving him. So Dale took the troops back home and I stayed with Gideon.

A lot of what goes on in hospitals (for the people who don’t work there) is WAITING. During my 3 day visit, as my son’s breathing slowly improved, I looked through a ton of magazines. But it was as I flipped through a National Geographic that something special happened. A photo caught my eye and I decided that I just had to draw this face.

To my surprise, my drawing started to look like the photo. And I had a right to be surprised, after all. It was my first attempt after having gone some 18 years without doing any serious drawing whatsoever. In fact, I don’t think I had ever drawn that way before.

Alladin's dad by Michal Dye

Even though I still haven’t finished it, and I’m not even sure who took the photo, I love looking at it because it represents another significant step that I took on the path toward becoming the artist I’m going to be.

Even now, when I happen to see it, I gaze at it almost in a state of awe — thinking, “I did that?”