This is a recent assignment for Steven Banks, Design Director at Los Angeles Magazine. Steve called me and some other illustrators to create the art for a special issue of essays exploring race relations in Los Angeles since the Los Angeles riots 20 years ago this month. Steve has been a big supporter of my work for the last 20 years and took notice of my recent acrylic and oil paintings and called for a painting for this special issue. Steve wanted to show a different side of my work and I was a very enthusiastic, "Right on!"
This is an illustrated essay by writer, Erin Aubry Kaplan. Erin reflected on her childhood in 1972 while being bused to a very white school in Westchester from her home in very black South Central Los Angeles, it was a touching and unique perspective from this very successful contemporary writer.
Steve mentioned that the section opener had not been assigned yet so I took the opportunity to create some designs that spoke to race relations in Los Angeles, I didn't get the cover so it will be fun to see who landed it!
Thank you for the fun assignment, Steve!
"Looking Back" | Acrylic on Birch | 6x20"...
Detail | I wanted to show the memory of the bus as a murky collage of figures....
Section opener designs | Uncommissioned...
"Looking Back" Designs...
Steve suggested that we take the sketch and stretch it across the page and include more bus windows. Good call....
I took the above idea and thought that it would look look cool to show that this person was blossoming under these challenging conditions. No go....
Adam McCauleyMarch 19, 2012
Beautiful painting, Dick. And good on Steve for letting you spread your wings.
Greg MMarch 20, 2012
You're in the zone, man! Go to final on all those sketches (easy for me to say).
Gérard DuBoisMarch 20, 2012
The woman's face really stands out.
She's beautiful. Your painting technic is also a great solution for the whole image, it adds depth and nice details in the shadows and silhouettes.
Julia BreckenreidMarch 20, 2012
I really love this piece Richard - nice to see your process too.
Victor JuhaszMarch 22, 2012
Real nice Mr. Downs. The sketch process images are a treat as well.
Richard DownsMarch 23, 2012
Thank you, my friends! I really appreciate that you like the piece and that you commented. In a strange way I am "looking back" tonight myself. This is the last bit of writing that I will be doing in my "old" studio of 15 years, the place is emptied out and what is left is a bunch of cabinets, drafting tables and flat drawer files that get moved tomorrow. "looking back" is fine but "looking forward", is way better!
Katherine StreeterMarch 25, 2012
an amazing piece. and those sketches are pretty dreamy too!
andrea daquinoApril 2, 2012
wow, wonderful work - the whole process. i remember that day, too.