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Process: Congressman John Conyers August 1st, 2012

I’m always excited to get contacted by Nick Jehlen to do a portrait for The Progressive. It’s a nice challenge to try and do a simple black and white portrait and still have it possess personality and have an impact with the viewer. Doing a number of these portraits over the years has really given me an opportunity to work on improving my inking skills which I’ve really enjoyed. With an illustration like this you can’t rely on colour to have impact but rather on an interesting contrast of line and textures and of course a certain gleam in the subject’s eye. Hopefully I’ve captures something special here.

Here’s some shots of the most recent process shots of  Congressman John Conyers and the opening section of the article.

Time may be running out on John Conyers, one of the most venerable members of Congress. He’s a veteran leader of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He has served more than forty-seven years in the House of Representatives, and, in the past, has never really faced serious challengers. But this year, the Detroit-based Congressman is facing perhaps his most difficult political race as a result of redistricting, strong contenders, untimely scandals, and the inevitability of aging. Collectively, they may accomplish what has been a rare occurrence in the modern history of black Congressmembers: defeat while in office.

It is hard to find a progressive who would dispute Conyers’s integrity and commitment, “His work over the decades exemplifies the core values of black politics, particularly the values of resistance, social justice, freedom, and self-determination,” says Daryl Harris, chair of the political science department at Howard University. “He has consistently spoken inconvenient truths and sought accountability where desperately needed,” says George Mason University Professor Michael Fauntroy. “He has been at the vanguard of black politicians who combined street fire and suite sophistication.”

Congressman John Conyers, The Progressive - illustration by Jacqui Oakley

Since Conyers had such a distinguished career where he often stood up for ideals he strongly believed in, I wanted to show him looking determined. At the same time, he might possibly be pushed out of his position by scandals and slander and so I wanted to show him suspiciously looking over his shoulder. Sometimes it’s hard to do a subtle expression but it’s an interesting challenge.

Congressman John Conyers - illustration by Jacqui Oakley

If you’d like to see more of my ink portraits from the Progressive, you can check out my Bernie Sanders illustration here. I really enjoyed working on that piece too since Sanders has such great dramatic hand gestures and great hair to work with.

2 Responses to Process: Congressman John Conyers

  1. Beverly Tran says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I would like to showcase on the blog I maintain for him. http://conyersinthehouse.com

    Gorgeous artwork. This is the best portrait I have seen of him. Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hello Beverly. Thanks so much for the lovely compliment. It means so much that someone close to Conyers would like this portrait. Could you email me and we can discuss details? Thanks again! Jacqui

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