Birth of a Superhero

Birth of a Superhero by Ian James Roche
Birth of a Superhero | 2014

7/2/2019

Birth of a Superhero is my first pastel on sheetrock painting. I believe that I started the piece in late October of 2014 and finished it on December 1, 2014. I kept it a secret until it was finished. It was after a trip to Dia in Beacon, NY that September, and seeing the works of artists Sol Lewitt and Richard Serra that inspired me to create this first piece. I had always messed around with doing expressive drawings with pen or pencil on paper, but nothing close to this big or as colorful and powerful. I didn’t know that I was an artist. 


Richard Serra’s massive corten steel sculptures just engulfed me. The oxidation on the steel which I found out isn’t rust and actually serves as a protection for the steel, creates this beautiful earthy color that made me feel warm and calm, along with the beautiful abstract shape that the steel was torqued into. It was something that I had never felt before. Then, as I stood in front of Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings, I could feel my heart say, “I want to do this.”  So on my way home, I started feeling out my own way of creating something. Something big. I could feel the wall that Sol Lewitt’s drawings were on, but the chances of me having a wall to draw on were slim to none, so I thought of bringing a piece of a wall home with me. Sheetrock! The idea to use pastel came to me right away. I have two pastel drawings that my father did while he was still alive hanging in my living room, so maybe that’s where I got the idea to use pastel. The idea of using pastel on sheetrock felt natural to me, even though I had never taken a pastel to a wall or a piece of sheetrock before. So the following week I picked up an 8’ x 4’ piece of ½ inch sheetrock and some oil and soft pastels. I don’t remember if I started the piece the same day, but I leaned the sheetrock horizontally up against my living room wall and started on the top left hand corner with the oil pastel. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that I didn’t like the oil pastel and grabbed up a soft pastel. Much better. You can see how it looks a little different in the top left hand corner of the painting where I started with the oil pastel compared to the rest of the painting. I even thought about cutting that corner out. I left it. No big deal. I had no image of how this was going to look. I just knew that I wanted to express something. And as I worked on it, little by little I saw these colors and images coming out that blew me away. I knew that I had something. Then I would turn around and say to myself “what the fuck are you doing?” But I kept going. I just let the pastel move wherever I wanted it to move. I put a line or a curve here and then connected it with a line or a curve over there. And the colors just came to me. Or I would look at the pastels I had and simply say, “ooh, this color might work.” That is pretty much how I still create these pieces.  


I didn’t name the painting
Birth of a Superhero right away. The name didn’t come to me until a year later. The shapes and colors felt like the energy of a superhero, but I was also inspired by the superhero archetype and it’s parallels with my own artistic journey. This beautiful and powerful creative force had suddenly burst out of me which I had always slightly felt was there all along, but I couldn’t find the courage to release it. I felt like I was reborn. I had finally stepped into my creativity and the ability to express the language of my heart. It took me a long time to find that creativity in my heart, and now I feel that I am doing my best to honor and respect that creativity by expressing it beautifully through my artwork.