I spent my daytime hours painting a soldier…a young lad from Newfoundland; he was deployed to Cyprus and separated from his family. He suffered huge loss and died very young…before his time. As I painted, I felt as though I was immersed in his life. My efforts were more to honour his life in each stroke of paint, than to ‘do a painting’….a prayer, I guess.
Words adhered to the panel came from Walt Whitman’s preface to The Leaves of Grass…
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… . The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured … others may not know it but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches … and shall master all attachment.
I think those words are powerful and certainly apply…I experienced them at my core.
So, having spent a day in this manner, I was ready to cut loose at the Gorilla House. Artists had already been notified that our concepts of the evening would conclude with “…but Heavy Metal made me do it.” I went in search of references for a pop culture figure that people would easily recognize, thinking I’d like to represent also, some form of robot. Clearly, I didn’t want to focus on the Heavy Metal sound…but rather, on a metaphor for the sound.
I chose Master Chief, after a number of suggestions. Tyler, thanks for the idea. Anyone who has encountered Halo will be familiar with the character, especially gamers and those with gamers in their lives.
I began by creating a series of block letters…I don’t know where this idea came from. The experience of Gorilla House-painting is always surprising. Without measuring, this process went easily. Friend and artist, Jen and I were discussing how the world of graphic art has changed over time and the fact that fonts are designed through computer imaging where as ‘in the day’ letters and signage was done manually. Quite a shift over years.
I laid my guide down quickly in pencil and then the words, R.E.S.P.E.C.T, REACH and in cursive, Forward Unto Dawn…and the selected theme of the evening, coming from Dylan in 1966. “I never wanted to be a prophet or a savior...but Heavy Metal made me do it.”
The words all have some sort of connection with the Halo game, but also speak to me in a completely different context. So, this painting is really a clash between two different worlds or realities. Master Chief, the other-worldly soldier, was a pleasure to quickly block in and paint before the end of the two hour session. I am grateful to Cherise who purchased this piece at auction.
For the non-Halo player, this from Wikipedia.
Halo 4 is a 2012 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 video game console. The game was released in most territories worldwide on November 6, 2012. Halo 4‘s story begins four years after the ending of Halo 3; the player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier. The story is mainly set on a Forerunner planet, where Master Chief encounters the collection of alien races known as the Covenant and ancient warriors of the Forerunner empire known as the Prometheans. Master Chief is accompanied by the artificial intelligence construct Cortana.
Setting and characters
Halo 4 takes place in a futuristic science fiction setting in the year 2557, four years after the events of Halo 3. Backstory details that hundreds of thousands of years before the modern era, humans were one of several interstellar civilizations. Following a war with the parasitic Flood, the humans came into conflict with the Forerunners, a powerful race that upheld the Mantle of Responsibility, a policy of benevolent shepherding of other races. After years of conflict the Forerunners defeated the humans and stripped them of their technology and empire. The Forerunners soon fought the Flood themselves; after exhausting every other strategic option available to them, the Forerunners activated weapons of mass destruction known as the Halo Array. The Array’s firing killed all sentient life in the galaxy to deprive the Flood of their food. Life that the Forerunners catalogued was then reseeded throughout the galaxy.
In the 26th century, space-faring humanity (organized under the United Nations Space Command, or UNSC) comes under attack from the Covenant, an alien collective of species that worships the Forerunners as gods. The Covenant believe that activating the Halos will bring about salvation, not destruction. The human supersoldier Master Chief John-117, along with his artificial intelligence companion Cortana, are instrumental in stopping the Halos from being activated, and the Flood from once again menacing the galaxy. At the end of Halo 3, Chief and Cortana are left stranded in unknown space aboard the remains of the vessel Forward Unto Dawn. Much of Halo 4‘s campaign and Spartan Ops’ missions take place on or near the Forerunner planet Requiem. Part of the game also takes place on Ivanoff Research Station—a human base in orbit around the Halo ringworld Installation 03—and in Earth’s orbit.