Here in the United States we used to separately celebrate the February birthdays of our two favorite Presidents, George Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). Somewhere along the way somebody got tired of paying people to frolic and play for two days, so they combined the two holidays into one (February 18) and called it the generic “Presidents’ Day” even though many Presidents didn’t earn the right to be celebrated.
Abraham Lincoln is definitely one who deserves celebrating, most notably for ending slavery and trying to mend a fractured nation. He is honored, along with George Washington, by being pictured on both coin and paper money. Towns, schools, cars, even logs are all named after Lincoln. He is a memorable part of Disneyland, and has been the subject of many books, movies, and television shows.
One of the earliest portrayals of Lincoln in film was by Charles Brabin for the short His First Commission in 1911, roughly a mere ten years after motion pictures were invented. Lincoln has been portrayed in films and television over 300 times by actors such as Walter Huston, John Carradine, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Gregory Peck, and more recently by Daniel Day-Lewis.
For all these reasons, and the fact that he has such an intriguing face, I felt compelled to try a more grown-up approach to painting than what I am used to. Using red, white and blue as my palette, this piece came forth last weekend in watercolor with a hint of colored pencil here and there. While employing a more mature technique, I’m still a cartoonist. So this remains a caricatured interpretation of a President I admire greatly.
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