Painting Mad Men
“Why paint a series of portraits based on a popular television show?”
I have always been fascinated by taking still images of films and TV shows. Taking a photograph of a moving image allows me to stop time and dwell within that one precious moment or frame which would otherwise be lost in the blur of action. Painting from that image takes the moment further, and gives me time to explore the make-believe world that someone else created. In Mad Men, this is especially true, because many of the shots are already very tableau-like, with compositions and colors that remind me of paintings by Vermeer, Sargent, and others. And similar to Vermeer showing off the interiors of Dutch merchants’ homes, Mad Men's art direction flaunts the material goodies of middle-class wealth in 1960s America - even while exposing the darker side of all that consumer culture and leisure time (not to mention all the sexism, racism, etc, of 1960s America).
On a more personal level, I get a feeling of time traveling while painting from the show, which takes place in the America of my childhood. My mother worked as a secretary (before I was born) at a Madison Avenue ad agency, and my father even looked a little like Don Draper. I can relate when Mad Men's creator Matthew Weiner says that part of his reason for creating the show is "trying to figure out what is the deal with my parents" (from an interview in the New York Review of Books, Feb 2011).