Dondi, 12x12 inches oil on canvas panel by Kenney Mencher
Painting for me is one of those joyful and almost childlike exercises that bring me all the way back to being a little kid who was learning how to draw faces. Small quick studies of faces are probably one of my all-time favorite things to do. In a way they are kind of like grabbing a hamburger and a Coke as opposed to going out for a large gourmet meal that some of my paintings are.
It's so satisfying for me to be able to quickly sketch in with wet paint and a brush the proportions and shape of the head and attempt to create a likeness of a beautiful otter-ish young man like this. When I shared this painting on Facebook, a couple of my friends asked if they could get his phone number. Of course they can't because he's largely made up. You may ask, what is an otter? Well, according to the Urban Dictionary, an otter is, "A gay man who is very hairy all over his body, but is smaller in frame and weighs considerably less than a bear."
Lately I've been working on a lot of square canvases because I like the cubelike composition. However, one of the things that I try to do when I'm painting is have a more interesting composition rather than a symmetrical or bull's-eye kind of view of the head or face. That's why in this instance, I tried to place the head off center and create a kind of diagonal running through the composition using the flow of his head into his shoulder and placing the majority of his features in the left-hand side of the panel.
I suppose this painting also has a little bit of a story to it especially in terms of the title. I've titled this otter, "Dondi" because that was the nickname that I gave to a friend of mine who looked quite a bit like him almost 30 years ago. My friend "Dondi" was a beautiful young man in his 30s who had large limpid eyes and he reminded me of an old cartoon strip by the same name. Although this isn't a portrait of my Dondi, it's a sort of composite of my memory of his face and a model that I was working from.
This painting is done on a canvas panel that has a archival cardboard center with canvas glued to it. The size is actually very easy to find an inexpensive frame for if you look either here on Etsy or on some other venues. Just look for a framing kit with an open back frame and you can snap this right into the frame and it will only probably cost you 20 or $30.
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