The Anatomy of Art

A childhood dream of becoming an animator led painter Marcus Gannuscio to become interested in learning to draw the human form. “When I was 12, I saw ‘The Lion King’ and decided I wanted to be an animator,” he says. “My mother actually contacted someone at Disney to find out what I’d need to do to become one, and the person’s advice was to concentrate on learning to draw figures and anatomy.”

A native of San Diego, Gannuscio studied painting at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., before permanently settling in Portland, where he works out of a studio in his home.

Gannuscio’s paintings, such as Neil (right), are usually based on real people, and he makes several sketches before translating his ideas into their final oil-on-canvas versions. “I got the idea for this painting when I was managing the bar at a restaurant in Portland,” he says. “A Manet painting of a woman standing behind a bar influenced me. I was also interested in the idea that, in a restaurant, you never really pay much attention to the people who make and bring the things you’re served, but the moment someone is in a painting, you become interested. I wanted the painting to make you give more consideration to that person, but it’s also a study in the power of the image, which is where the bartender’s confrontational stare comes from.”

Gannuscio, who also paints commissioned portraits, likes the fact that a single painting can have many qualities. “What I enjoy about painting is that a piece works on more than one level,” he says. “You can stand back and look at and make out an image, but if you want, you can also get up close and see all the brushstrokes and colors that went into making it.”

The 38-by-32-inch oil-on-canvas Neil costs $3,000.

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