May 9, 2017

Freehand airbrush portrait of Johan Cruijff

After a long time of not having touched an airbrush, I took up the tool again to make yet an other portrait of Johan Cruijff. He was one of soccer's all time great players along with Pele, Maradona and Messi. Off the pitch he was a warm blooded man, who was moved when seeing a disabled child playing near a swimming pool. In that moment he decided to help common young people and the disabled in particular. In my mind that sets him apart from many of his glamour seeking peers. Cruijff looked past the boundaries of the world of top level soccer and saw human beings who were in need of a little help that they were unable to obtain anywhere else.

Remarkable things happened during the airbrushing of this portrait. When I planned to set up the portrait, which is drawing the image of his face onto a blank canvas frame, I picked up my cellphone to see what time it was. It read: 00:14 hours. 14 is the number that Cruijff wore on his shirt... Two day later my daughter sms-ed me, I picked up my phone and it was 14:14 hours... This blew me away. I often have such synchronicities when creating portraits, but I felt in this case they were extraordinarily strong and clear. I suspect some artists to have had similar experiences.

Below you see a sequence of various stages of the portrait; the oldest at the bottom, the newest on top. I used the Iwata HP-BH and Custom Micron SB airbrushes and Inspire H2O paint. The original photo was a black and white picture and I decided to spray the portrait in monochrome, since the visual impact of the image was powerful, beautifully expressing Cruijff's mindset. At this point - May 9 2017 - it is a work in progress, advancing quite slow since I am having lower back discomfort. I will post significant updates when ready. Stay tuned and please be patient.

Update nov 26 2019
Becoming increasinly displeased with the result of the airbrush portrait, I edited this work (that no longer is in my possession) in Affinity Photo. You can view the result in this blog entry.