Behind the Person of the Year Cover

Artist Jason Seiler on how he captured Pope Francis for this year's issue

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Photographs courtesy Jason Seiler, Ava Seiler, and Jacqueline Patrice

To capture the essence of Pope Francis, we turned to Chicago-based artist Jason Seiler, a classically trained oil painter who recently taught himself to paint digitally on a 21-inch LCD display.

“This technology allows me to work naturally, intuitively drawing and painting directly on the LCD display,” says Seiler, who studied fine art illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. “My technique when painting digitally is very similar to the way I paint with oils or acrylics. I tend to work from dark to light, focusing mainly on values and color harmony. I never use any form of photo manipulation.”

Seiler spent more than 70 hours creating the Person of the Year artwork, which continues the rich tradition of great portraiture on the cover of TIME. “A lot of times before I start a painting, I see it finished in my head,” he says. “With the Pope, I let it happen organically.”

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After an initial sketch, Seiler covered it with a thin layer of raw umber—the same way an under-painting is utilized in traditional painting. “My paintings tend to have a lot of detail, but don’t let that fool you—the details are only the final touches,” says Seiler. “The most important thing is the drawing, and once I have that to my satisfaction I focus on capturing light and establishing strong values. I create a limited palette and use only those colors for the duration of the painting.”

(PERSON OF THE YEAR: Pope Francis, The People’s Pope)

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Next, Seiler focused on getting the character, look and feel of the Pope correct. “From there I just painted what I was feeling. I paint by stacking and layering my brushwork similar to sculpting with clay, but building form with values, structure and most importantly capturing light.”

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“Many artists can draw a decent likeness of a well-known face, but the challenge is to capture not just the likeness but the character of the person. Capturing this truth, or essence, is, for me, the most important factor in considering a portrait successful or not.”

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Seiler, who also worked as a character designer on Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, found painting digitally came naturally. “Mixing color digitally is done basically the same way it is done traditionally, only easier and quicker. I enjoy finding a thumbprint on a painting or seeing loose hairs from a paintbrush entombed forever in the art. I purposely leave brush marks visible, knowing that as long as the lighting and
values are correct, the painting will still have a very realistic look and quality alongside its traditional feel.”

And if you look closely at his latest work on this week’s TIME cover, you’ll notice some of those realistic touches.

17 comments
dshinyeh
dshinyeh

Looking at the magazine cover at the news stands, this is a photograph, not a painting.  Perhaps the work enlarged many times with "brush strokes" intact, will look good in an editor's office.  But for the news stand, a photograph will do as well?

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

TIME is to be lauded for its wonderful selection. The portrait of the Pope is artistically superb.There is nothing to be ashamed of being a Marxist, for Marx got his ideas from Jesus. Jesus attacked priests, capitalists and corrupt rulers in all his speeches. Marx probably would have got ideas for revolutionary socialism from the bold act of Jesus in driving out black marketeers and big business from the Temple premises. The Bible says that Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers' tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. If Jesus came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practiced under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer! In Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, a bishop wants to arrest Jesus for interfering in his nefarious activities. Pope Francis should boldly put into action Christian Marxism. If he fails, Jesus wouldn't recognize him at the time of Last Judgment. How can we say'Marxist ideology is wrong?' The Kingdom of Heaven on earth propounded by Jesus can be compared to the Utopian society envisaged by Marx.

SauloLuther
SauloLuther

Daniel 7:8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

Daniel 8:9 And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.

DeanJackson
DeanJackson

The Vatican was co-opted by Moscow and allies in 1958 with the "election" of Pope John XXIII. When the inexplicable "resignation" of Pope Benedict occurred last February, many were shocked, realizing I had indeed hit on the truth. Then several months after his "resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict admitted the real reason he "resigned"--God told him too! It wasn't God, but Moscow, because the stench of Benedict's pedophilia was too strong, Moscow now needed a kinder, gentler man in the Vatican--Pope Francis (Moscow's intention isn't to destroy the Catholic Church, merely to weaken and control it). 


How did I pinpoint the date of the Moscow usurpation of the Vatican, you ask? Simple, because in 1960 the Vatican refused to releases the so-called Third Secret of Fatima, 1960 being the year the "secret" was to be released by. Imaging that? The Vatican refusing an order from God! You don't have to be a Christian (or a believer in God) to know that Believers would never disobey the order of God!


Also, it was in the early 1960s that the Vatican inexplicably changed its policy towards priests caught molesting Catholic children. The old policy was to remove the offending priest from the unsupervised company of children, a move consistent with Christian values, since (1) the Vatican knew what would happen to such priests if sent to prison; and (2) it stopped in its tracks any further abuse of Catholic children by the offending priest. But in the early 1960s the Vatican's policy inexplicably changed to passing the offending priest to unsuspecting parishes, where the molestation of Catholic children could continue, hugely increasing the number of Catholic children abused. The policy shift also had the side effect of encouraging pedophiles to join the seminaries in order to get some of the action their pedophile priest-friends told them about.


You see, if Believers were in control of the Vatican, naturally such a policy shift would never have taken place, since Believers would know that God would have a special punishment for them in the next life. Never thought about that, huh?


We also have the incident where in 1998 Pope John Paul II tried to palm off on the Swiss Guard a KGB agent for the position of Commander. Several hours after Alois Estermann is promoted to commander of the Swiss Guard by Pope John Paul II, Estermann and his wife (along with another Swiss Guard) are found dead in their Vatican apartment. Days later the European press reports that Estermann had been a KGB agent since 1979.


For those of you wondering how could the Moscow network in the Vatican still be operational, since the USSR "collapsed" in 1991, take a look at these…


Google: 'Krasnaya Zvezda'


“Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian (no kidding!) for "Red Star", the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper's official designation is, "Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense." Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era masthead, one of which pictures Lenin's head! Those Soviet emblems and Lenin's head can't still be next to the masthead of the Russian Ministry of Defense's newspaper due to their association with the Soviet Union and its ideals of world revolution; the nations of the world constituting the Soviet Union!


In addition, the KGB agent Quislings that controlled the Russian Orthodox Church before the “collapse” of the USSR are to this day still in control. They were never identified and thrown out of that institution after the “collapse” of the USSR. The same is true for all other religious institutions in the other 14 republics of the USSR, including East Bloc nations, proving not only co-option of those religious institutions, but that the "collapses" of the East Bloc and USSR were disinformation operations:


Google: ‘Eleven out of 15 members of Bulgarian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod worked for communist State Security’




HariharanHaran
HariharanHaran

Why South Indian  Indian Christian nuns are occasionally visiting Vatican ? What kind of business is going on there. 

MisterH
MisterH

May God bless Pope Francis!


With all the attention being focused on Pope Francis, I am once again reminded of the beauty, wonder, and importance of the Catholic Church.

If you are a Catholic who has been away from the Church for a while, I can only say to you,  "What are you waiting for?  Come Home!"

A moving, two-minute video on the beauty of Catholicism and the contributions of the Catholic Church to Western Civilization can be found at the link:

http://allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/2012/04/catholics-come-home.html

tad
tad

I was expecting this to mention the unfortunate placement of the 'M' behind the head of Pope Francis.

DaleRehus
DaleRehus

Congratulations Jason! Beautiful work! I attended the American Academy and majored in illustration before the digital age. I would love to try my hand at painting on a tablet or screen. Would you mind sharing what application you used to paint this? Or, If someone else knows...

terijo60504
terijo60504

@DeanJackson Allow me to enlighten you about what you call "the inexplicable 'resignation' of Pope Benedict" ...

The Catholic church has been under assault in the United States of America.  This assault began with the implication of Obamacare aka; the Affordable Care Act.  

Catholicism opposes artificial birth control and abortions. Sadly, the United States government tried to force the church to pay for insurance which covered these services for their employees.  This resulted with Pope Benedict having to fight for the rights of the church. Unfortunately, Pope Benedict was in poor health.  He wanted a stronger person to take over his position; someone who was fit for the battle.   So, the rumors and hateful comments began.

                                                          EXPLAINED.  SIMPLE.

terijo60504
terijo60504

@HariharanHaran  Many people travel to see the Vatican.  To the best of my knowledge the only Christian religion that has "Nuns" is the Catholic religion.   If these women from India visit the Vatican, perhaps they are meeting the new Pope?

van4u1119
van4u1119

@tad Glad someone else noticed that too. I highly doubt it the designer did it unintentionally. There is no way.

terijo60504
terijo60504

@DaleRehus The artist resides in Chicago, IL; perhaps you could see his studio?  I agree, this is amazing to fuse traditional art with digital art.  

Fred_Lang
Fred_Lang

Dale, it looks like Photoshop's user interface from what I can see. Best of luck in your first digital steps!

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