-By Greg Ruth
Allright, full disclaimer. I was seven years old when Star Wars first came to our theaters- essentially the perfect age for it. If any of you out there were around for this you'll remember it was at a time when our culture was much more unified as a whole and our media far more limited than it is now. Star Wars landed like a hammer and sent reverberations across every aspect of the culture at the time. It was an epic phenomena unlike anything that came before it, really, and so at the tender age of seven, it left a mark on me. I will always have a soft spot for the universe that was created then and am excited to see my own boys grow up in a time where they too can get the same experience, and do. For my youngest especially his Star Wars has been THE CLONE WARS show and now REBELS and THE FORCE AWAKENS and is chomping at the bit for ROGUE ONE this coming December. My seven year old self is envious of the amount of content he gets to digest and the ubiquity of toys and Legos and everything to keep his interest in this sci fi world. (I had to send in $3 to subscribe to wait six weeks as one at a time they would mail you a new action figure. This was the only way to get on then).
So last year when I was experimenting with this new graphite technique it was a natural fit to test it on some Star Wars portraits. I had been invited to participate in a group show about it and of course was thrilled with the excuse to dive back into my deep genre DNA and make drawings for these folk that were like my imaginary family from childhood. I managed to execute four pieces originally and promised to return for more when time could be made for it. I rarely do thumbnails or sketches, but did some for at least some of these to send over to the gallery. Funnily all were rejected save for "PiLOTS" here on the left.
Stubbornly I decided to ignore that and make them all anyway, starting with "Darth, Anakin & Luke", a portrait of this through line that spans the core trilogy and beyond. While I never put any of these in the show, I never made prints of them either. The idea was, akin the the full 52 WEEKS PROJECT spirit, to make original work for its own sake and for its own ends. I also wanted the challenge to trying not to rely on headshots or likenesses to carry the pieces. While they were indeed portraits, I thought it'd be more interesting to tackle them in a different way.
And in the end one more was added to the roll call that simply could not be unheard from, Princess Leia.
I had always intended to return to the series, and expected to have done so mere weeks after this last one was sorted out, but alas, life and work conspired against it. Until now. Committing to a year long project given what's coming in the next few months seemed impossible to stay loyal to, but a short run of a series seemed perfect to scratch my project itch I get. And then I remembered I never did get back to those previous Star Wars pieces. Perfect. Storm.
The first one had to be the last one I intended but never found an opportunity to execute: our Old Man of the Dune Sea himself, Obi-Wan Kenobi. And the first actual likeness of the series, because like Christopher Reeve will always be my Superman... Alec Guiness is Obi-Wan for me entirely.
And Greedo, depite having almost no substantive screen time, has shot his way into our hearts, even though he never ever shot first. I posted this as a special edition to celebrate May the 4th.
Han Solo who was my first pirate and will always be my favorite. On this one I crossed into three films by invoking his Episode 4 self, with an Episode 5 portrait tweaked with a vanitas nod to what comes in Episode 7.
And of course, Master Yoda on Dagobah pondering past present and future...
And a sneak peek at a forthcoming drawing featuring a couple of droids whose name I can never remember.
After this there are least seven more portraits coming, one every Monday by noon until the project runs it's course. So I hope you follow along. Until then, I'll see you after weekend trench run!