Every once and a great while I’ll watch a film that completely catches me off guard. The first time I saw Pulp Fiction, long before I knew who Quentin Tarantino was, I was fifteen years old. From the moment Jules shot the guy laying on the couch in the motel room, Pulp Fiction was as rough on me as the characters were to each other. Unpredictable and shocking, I felt I was watching real people commit these horrible and sometimes hilarious acts, instead of just characters in a movie.
That first impression remained with me when I began working on this painting. When I select a project to work on, I like to research it to locate any information that may inform which direction I’ll take the painting. In this case, I searched online for film reviews and the observation I found most common was that this film dealt with salvation and redemption. These are very powerful themes and I felt they worked nicely with my tendency to portray characters at their core. The most obvious use of this is my depiction of Butch, who I wanted to show at the moment he decides to save Marsellus Wallace, because I feel that speaks most truthfully to his character.
With the other characters I tended to pander more to my fifteen year old first impressions, with Jules being ruthless and cold and Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace exuding what I saw as cool. The color choices I used for the characters were also intended to reflect their personalities, in particular Mia’s face being red meant to signify lust and Vincent’s infatuation with her, and the blues in Jules’s face reinforcing his cold demeanor.
This painting was also the first time that the dimensions of the canvas reflected the widescreen aspect ratio of the film I was portraying, giving it a more cinematic feel. Another first in this painting is the inclusion of Easter eggs for those familiar with the film, such as the briefcase and Butch’s gold watch. Setting the painting in the diner also felt appropriate, as the scenes within it served to bookend the film.
Mostly my painting of Pulp Fiction was a sort of amalgam of my past and present perceptions of the film. To me the most enjoyable part of painting something is following the direction it will take and seeing how different themes or ideas can interact with one another.