Dial Up Bear, 12x12 inches oil on canvas panel by Kenney Mencher
Who is he talking to? I wanted the painting to be a more intimate and familiar kind of genre scene. The kind of scene of everyday life in which someone is Talking on an old-fashioned telephone rather than a cell phone and is caught up in the moment. That's why I've cropped in so close on the head and shoulders. His lips are parted slightly as if in thought and about to jump into the conversation.
Recently I've been working a little bit more from imagination. This original painting is one of the few rare paintings that I've made from my imagination. I usually need some sort of reference material such as a photograph or a live model to make my art and in this case I was attempting to make a painting based on a sort of shopping list of ideas that I had for both the subject matter and how it would look.
The subject, is one of my favorite homoerotic subjects to paint. A large bearish man wearing a T-shirt or a tank top. There's something so basic and so sexy about middle-aged men and especially bears. In this case he looks a little bit more like a muscle bear because his arms are so thick. I wanted the painting to have a high contrast of light and shadow, this is often referred to by an art buzzword called "chiaroscuro" and or with the spotlighting effect also referred to in Italian as "tenebrism."
This painting was done in the "alla prima" method. The alla prima is an Italian phrase that means 'at first attempt'. It refers to a wet-on-wet approach whereby wet paint is applied to previous layers of still-wet paint, often in a single sitting. Over the years, the technique has been adopted and adapted by artists from Van Gogh to Velázquez.