Making the Wolverine

I’ve always liked the playfulness in Normal Rockwell’s paintings. This particular piece is a parody of the painting that appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post from May 27, 1944 titled “The Fireman.” The story for the original painting is that Rockwell found the frame that is illustrated in the painting and incorporated it into a painting. Note that the frame has various equipment that would be used by firefighters.

The Fireman – Oil on Canvas (33.5 x 26.5 in) – Norman Rockwell

Before jumping into the painting I did some quick layouts and studies for practice and to build up enough confidence that I could produce something resembling what I envisioned. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to paint or illustrate at a level that matches my visions but that is the fun and the challenge of art. In this case I knew I did not have the skill to render the subject at the same level of detail as Rockwell, but I didn’t want that to deter me from producing the art at a skill level that would push me to further my abilities. You can see that even my sketch is much rougher than the study that Rockwell generated.

Rough composition – Graphite on newsprint – Felix Yin (2015)

Though wolverine’s brown suit would have been a closer match to the color composition of Rockwell’s original painting I wanted the image to pop more so I selected the yellow, black and blue suit to make it pop in the center of the composition.

Color Test – Colored pencil on newsprint – Felix Yin (2015)
Detail Study – Graphite on newsprint – Felix Yin (2015)

Note the facial expression, in particular the mouth. I would struggle to capture this in the acrylic medium and ended up with something that was more cartoony than I desired. Something to work on in the future for sure.

Facial Detail Study – Graphite on newsprint – Felix Yin (2015)

Rockwell’s original painting was done in oil on canvas at 33.5 in by 26.5 in. I chose to use a smaller 20 in x 14 in canvas board, which at the time was the largest acrylic painting I had tackled. The first step was doing a rough layout in pencil. On the bottom, near the mantle you can see there are some markings from an earlier composition that I abandoned.

Rough Layout – Red & blue pencil on canvas board – Felix Yin (2015)
Blocking in colors – Acrylic on canvas board – Felix Yin (2015)
Tightening up colors – Acrylic on canvas board – Felix Yin (2015)
Early Lighting and details – Acrylic on canvas board – Felix Yin (2015)
Claws and frame – Acrylic on canvas board – Felix Yin (2015)

Looking back on this piece I can see where I could have added some more x-men specific ornaments within the frame and perhaps worked a bit more on the facial expression for wolverine, but other than that I’m satisfied with how this came out. If I ever decide to tackle this on a larger format I’ll claim this one as my study!

the Wolverine – Acrylic on canvas board – Felix Yin (2015)