Chris Buzelli Reveals a Young TS Eliot
100 portraits is a lot. Especially when you have very little time to complete them. But this was the task recently brought to painter Chris Buzelli who buckled down and designed his own way through the gauntlet. That project forced Chris to approach this work in a new way, and learn a lot about it. Between efficiency of line and depth color, the vast compendium caught the attention of Designer Rodrigo Corral who asked the painter to help create a book cover for a biography of TS Eliot, “Young Eliot.”
Rodrigo’s request fit directly in line with the massive exploration of portrait Chris had just completed, and he continued his investigation through this portrait. “The painting is fairly small, but I do that so you can really see the brush strokes,” Chris says. “I try to be really frugal and use the least amount of brush strokes as possible; in his jacket and tie and shirt there’s maybe seven or eight brush strokes. It just feels fresh and alive and feels like you can breathe.” By using fewer strokes, a method he perfected in necessity with his previous project, he is able to show a demand over his craft, bringing life to the work.
There are only a couple images of TS Eliot as a kid, so there was a level of creativity that Chris had to employ in order to complete the image. Accuracy came from the two black and white images that he was able to secure, but coloring was entirely invented using whatever resources he could.
Chris' style is already expressive, using proportion and shapes to tell stories about his subjects that wouldn't come through using photorealism. It's the same for Chris' use of color. Even in his portraits you'll find he uses blues and reds in a way that to our eyes doesn't seem to be realistic, but as Chris explains it, he's actually getting closer to life. “When you really have fun and have really lit what’s in front of you well, and you really look at their face you can see all types of color reflected,” explains Chris. “There’s a lot more color in the face than you first notice, especially when you see them live instead of a photo. I try and put in those colors that I see in life and make those portraits come alive.” It's about creating a depth that is deceptively relatable. In a way Chris' use of color tricks us into seeing more in his work because he gives us information we're looking for without even knowing it. Although what he’s created may seem alien on the surface, he’s giving us a version realism we were already searching for.