Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Outlaws and Patriots


Bill Harrison specializes in doing highly realistic life size charcoal pencil portraits. His new series of portraits of bikers (Harley, not Schwinn), is called Outlaws and Patriots. His goal is to do an "unsympathetic portrait;" that is, a portrait in which his sympathies lie neither with nor against the subject. No mocking, nor glory; He simply portrays them as they appear, in high detail, and lets their own innate dignity carry the piece. His subjects are older, generally in their fifties or more. Someone once said, "When we are young, we wear the face God gave us. By 50, we wear the face we deserve." Harrison finds that the faces of people in their middle age or older are full of character, evidence of a life lived well or badly or both, and this is what is portrayed. What really interests him about the bikers is the tribal aspect of the subculture. Their hair, their leathers, their patches and pins all function to set them apart from the typical citizen. In many ways they're the kind of people who would've been cowboys back in the old West. They are generally tough independent men, often misfits to some degree, who generally want nothing more than to be left to live their lives as they see fit.

Bill Harrison received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the University of Illinois in 1977 and spent the next 20 years as an illustrator. Working almost exclusively in 'stipple', constructing nearly photo-realistic drawings of food, people, and products using only little tiny black dots. Since the bottom has dropped out of the illustration world, he is making the transition to the fine art arena.

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