SUPERMAN: CHRISTOPHER REEVES (Restoring a Legend)
In the last few years, more and more people have trusted me to restore their favorite pieces of art. I love doing it, and I always get the privilege to hear the inside stories and hidden anecdotes of the owners and their pieces. As rewarding as this is, I also find it very stressful.
Part of the reason goes beyond the challenge of the obvious: repairing damage or bringing colours back to their original vibrancy, which in turn restores the artwork’s value. This is just the technical side.
The real issues come when you unveil the restored piece. Will it satisfy the requirements they laid out, and more importantly, will it reconnect them to the joy they felt when they originally acquired the piece? That is the real challenge.
Quick timelapse of restoration process for Superman: Christopher Reeves.
After all, they’ve had the piece for many years, and the ‘shine’ of newness has long faded. This is where the real stress lies for me. And I’ve been very lucky in accomplishing this with all my restoration projects, and I’m super happy to say, this piece is no different.
The owner, a huge Superman fan (as well as a huge fan of the legendary Christopher Reeves, arguably the best Superman to date), bought this piece while travelling almost 2 decades ago. The painting had faded so badly, that some of the colours were almost completely washed out.
Despite the owners best efforts to find and connect with the original artist and galleries to purchase another one, he came up empty handed. He was left to watch the piece he loved slowly fade away into oblivion. He was not happy with that fate, so he contacted me to see if I could help save his artwork.
I scoured the internet for the original and did find a small image, but could not find the original artist’s name beyond DOC ’06. (So if anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know, I’d love to give them full credit for this fabulous piece).
I had a blast restoring this one. I hadn’t done any superhero work in a long, long time, and this was a refreshing break from my usual work. And this artist’s technique was completely different than my style, which made for an extra challenge and a rethinking of my own approach. I did my best to faithfully reproduce the artist’s brilliant work, and I’m happy to say that the owner of this piece was beyond happy with the final outcome of this iconic 80s Superman tribute. (You can judge for yourself if I was successful in recapturing the original). I used all museum quality materials and 4 coats of UV resistant museum quality varnish so that the colours will last well beyond the owner’s lifetime.
If you’re interested in how I approached the piece, here’s a quick outline:
Step 1: I established the black outlines with professional quality UV resistant ink.
Step 2: I then added the bright yellows with professional acrylic paint.
Step 3: This is where the varying shades of blue were added with acrylic, and the piece is starting to come to life.
Step 4: The reds and greys are added with acrylic paint, and the piece is starting to get back some of it’s original punch.
Step 5: All the flesh tones are completed and white background is cleaned up with acrylic paint.
Step 6: Final restored painting. 4 coats UV resistant museum quality varnish is applied to keep the painting vibrant and protected from stains and sunlight for many, many years.
Did I do the piece justice? or did I bury the original artist’s work under my own, drowning the spark of the original? Let me know your thoughts.