This past weekend I was interviewed in relation to an exhibition of my work here in Brooklyn, (at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition) with the conversation touching on my childhood love of the comic book character Iron Man. The interviewer, KMO, pulled out some great questions, forcing me to engage and objectify my interest in Iron Man. To my surprise, I found a very real and obvious connection between him and my love of astronauts, which I had heretofore never actually put together.
What makes Iron Man so appealing in many ways is that he could be you or I. Tony Stark does not possess superhuman strength, otherworldly super powers, or live as an alien species. He is human but happens to be a billionaire and have developed an amazing suit of technological wonder. In a similar way, astronauts are just like Iron Man, accomplishing feats beyond the realm of the commoner and possessed of extraordinary abilities and intelligence.
Admittedly, Tony Stark’s achievements are nearly superhuman, but compared to a Kryptonian birthright, it was as real as a superhero could get to a 15 year kid. I could be Iron Man, or an Astronaut, if I could just get one of those suits! Thus in many of my childhood drawings, Iron Man was a frequent visitor.
It was from this passion for metal wrapped superheroes that my desire to conquer the difficulties of bringing suits of armor to life within my illustrations. Ask any painter, and they will tell you painting a reflective metal surface/object is no easy task. Careful observation is required, and even better results will be realized if you can create a still life and setting which contain all the information needed to visualize your illustration. Spending extra time to acquire the right references pays off BIG when tackling metal!
I have a few secret weapons when it comes to rendering these metallic illusions, but not so secret that you need to be a billionaire to acquire them! A quick trip to the local five and dime and into New York’s China town has landed me the perfect items to help along my metal suited creations.
Thus my concept of the day here is Reference and Environment. Below is a little sample of the results of what I will be teaching on the topic of metallic surfaces and portraiture at a forth coming three day Master Class in Illustration at TLC Workshops in Seattle, Washington, July 11-13. A few spots are still open for those of you in the Seattle Area: http://www.tlcworkshops.com
Couple a passion for metal with that of portraiture, and you’ve got me signing the tune of Iron Man from my youth! I can still smell that India Ink as I traced in the lines of a drawing of him as a 17 year old.
Iron Man began during the Illustration Master Class 2008 24″ x 36″ Oil on Panel
Earth to Universe Oil on Panel
Construct of Time Oil on Panel
Mirari – Orb of Desire Oil on Panel
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep 24″ x 36″ Oil on Panel
The Mechanic created for my first instructional DVD 24″ x 36″ Oil on Panel
Born in 1967 and raised in Colchester, Vermont, USA, art was always a hobby for Donato as a young man, he would steal away into the basement of his parents' home to work on drawings, create his own maps for the game Dungeons & Dragons, paint figurines, read comics, and construct model tanks and dinosaurs. His love of imaginative play dominated his childhood, both indoors and out. At the age of twenty Donato enrolled in his first formal art class, the beginning of his professional training. Immediately after graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University in 1992, Donato moved to New York City to immerse himself in the inspired and varied art scene. Formative years in the early nineties were spent as the studio assistant to the preeminent figure painter Vincent Desiderio, and long days of study in the museums of New York. It was then that his love and appreciation of classical figurative art took hold. He continues his training even now, visiting museums regularly, learning from and sometimes copying original paintings by Rembrandt or Rubens, attending life drawing sessions with illustrator friends and constantly challenges himself within each new project. Pilgrimages to major museums are his preferred reason to travel.
Donato has released a revised hard cover compilation of his works on the theme of J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle-Earth: Journeys in Myth and Legend from Dark Horse Comics.