Ronnie Spector, Gouache on paper, 12x9in., 2009

Much of my work draws from popular culture as its source, but I don’t think about Pop Art all that much. However, it was on my mind a lot in making two very different portraits—one of Ronnie Spector, and one of a chimpanzee. I painted the portraits in gouache, my second favorite paint, as a stop-gap project between oil paintings. The two portraits represent variant relationships to Pop Art.

I used a common photograph of Ronnie Spector as the source for my portrait of her. The source material is already an iconic and pre-coded sign that stands for Ronnie Spector. I painted that sign as a monochrome further flattening the image and aligning it with the strain of Pop Art that most closely resembles mass-produced, utilitarian images and artifacts. The border of the portrait I lifted from Peter Blake’s 1968 work, “Rainbow Babe.”

Though derived from popular culture, the portrait of the chimp is more photo-based realism than Pop Art, per se, and is more in keeping with my usual way of working. The source of the portrait is Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp. My technical decisions in the painting were based upon situating the chimp in space and representing it in a naturalistic way. The chimp here is elevated to iconic status though it didn’t start out that way. At least, not in the same way as Ronnie Spector.

Untitled, Gouache on paper, 12x9in., 2009