JOHN WAYNE in “RIO BRAVO” – Tribute in portraiture to an American Icon

I have many friends from foreign countries, many friends, and almost every one has told me over and over again: “Mark. You have no idea how much Hollywood has influenced the culture, even our culture.”, so says my friend Bernardo from Croatia, Flavio from Italy, Gaurav from India, and Malkiv from Bulgaria.  All of these gentlemen are near my age to slightly younger, and they all have a passion for the iconic actors and actresses of Hollywood yesteryear. And their favorites mostly come from the old, great westerns. 

So, a week ago, I got to thinking:”Hey!  How about I draw a portrait of John Wayne for my friends?”. I really didn’t know what to draw because there are so many great images of his that one can find by doing a simple google search. So, how do I decide which one to draw? Ah ha!  No problem. I’ll ask Dad, since he loves watching the great, old westerns. And sure as the sun comes up, I arrive into the living room with Dad completely laid back in the recliner and he’s watching none other than – wait for it! – a western with John Wayne!  And it happens to be RIO BRAVO.  Bingo!  Question answered.

I just so happened to walk in and see the part where John Wayne and Dean Martin were having a discussion in front of the bar at the local saloon.  John was holding a rifle and looking out the saloon doors, while Dean was giving him a hard time. Perfect scene! I quickly went and googled it and found what I wanted. Below is the reference photo I

Since John is wearing a very light-colored coat and hat, I decided that I would go for a hard type of charcoal or carbon because the “lighter” shades come in the harder grades. And because of how oily and sweaty John’s skin appears in this movie, I decided to utilize some graphite in certain facial areas only.

When using hard carbons or charcoals, they often leave visible pencil marks on the paper that create lines that are very difficult to erase, or blend away. You have to do quite a bit of layering to get rid of them. So what I decided to do was to grind my pencils into some powder and apply the powder directly to the paper with a piece of felt material. After the application was done, I went over the coat with a chamois to help pull out highlights and create the texture I was looking for.


From here, I simply began to apply the charcoal in areas I wanted the shadows to fall and creases to appear. I used vine charcoal on the hat to achieve the shade I wanted and blending it with a piece of felt material as well. After these areas were near complete, I moved on to rendering the face.


For the face, I decided to use the hard vine charcoal powder and began laying down a single application, gently blending across the areas I wanted to cover with a softened blending stump. What is a “softened” blending stump? Ah ha!  Something I discovered and it works fantastic for blending charcoal, carbon, and graphite when you are concerned about preserving the tooth of the paper.

After reaching the desired tones and shades, I used a kneaded eraser to pullout some wrinkles and creases in the forehead and then lightly shaded them in to give a three-dimensional appearance. I utilized compressed charcoal pencils to create the dark shadows in the clothing and face. The final results are below.

Here’s a close-up view.


So, please!  Tell me what you think of this latest attempt at portraiture.  I’m thinking of having prints made of this but not certain.    If you are interested then you can email me directly. My email address is found within the CONTACT tab of this blog site.  I’ll be posting this under the FOR SALE tab very soon as well.

SIZE: Paper 18″ X 24″; Image 13″ x 16″

Drawn on Fabriano Artistico hotpress 140 lb watercolor paper, bright white.

Well, thanks for stopping by and having a look. Hope you enjoyed my little adventure into portraiture.


GREAT BIG “THANK YOU” to a very kind gentlemen from the “Southern” part of the U.S.A for purchasing my recent attempt at portraiture of John Wayne!

Prints will be available soon but in smaller sizes than the original. Prices for the prints will be posted when they become available. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to read, post comments, shared, and hit the “like” button at the bottom of each blog post.

In the coming weeks, I should have the trilogy of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly posted and available for sell as well.  If you are interested in such, please feel free to contact me.  Thanks and have a great 4th of July Independence Day!

Wooo Hooo!  God Bless America!


4 thoughts on “JOHN WAYNE in “RIO BRAVO” – Tribute in portraiture to an American Icon

  1. Oh my goodness, Mark. Oh my goodness!! You know exactly what I think of this as I have exclaimed on all of your other pictures. You are amazing….awesome……and by far the best artist ever! Don’t ever doubt yourself.;;;;;

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark,
    Your “stuff” is VERY impressive! I happened to stop and comment here because “The Duke” was my dear late Mumm’s FAVORITE!!! Are you “formally” trained, or simply gifted? I’m almost afraid to ask how much $$, as the quality implies expensive. Please keep an eye out for an email from me, for a future “project”



    1. Thank you! Prints are available under the AVAILABLE PRINTS tab. The prices are listed there.
      JOHN WAYNE seems to be a popular figure, and if you are curious, there are more portraits of Mr. Wayne coming in the very near future.


Comments are closed.