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Comparative Study

by Sheyla Hernandez

Morbid Themes in Art

The disturbing and the obscure are nothing new to art.
Quite the opposite, they have been around for hundreds of
years as can be seen portrayed in the image on the right.
The majority of my work is influenced by morbid images
and thoughts we may all have at random times throughout
the day. Dark and vile scenes represent superficial
sadness as well as hidden peace.This idea is what I aim to
show through my study by comparing two artists, one local
and one international, and three pieces of artwork. Both
uncomfortable images with meaningful messages. This is
the concept I wanted to focus and expand on to further
apply to my own work.
The Death of Sardanapalus (1827), Eugene Delacroix.
Lubbock, Tom. "Great Works: The Death of Sardanapalus (1827),
Eugne Delacroix." The Independent. Independent Digital News and
Media, 22 Oct. 2011. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.

Fine Artist: Francis Bacon

A British painter from October 28th, 1909- April 28th 1992. Francis Bacon
experienced many hardships throughout his life. Being an openly gay man
during a time where homosexuality was treated with imprisonment, Bacon
suffered from abuse in part of his family and those around him. This was
reflected in his artwork as he often created pieces of large men making love
or interacting with one another. Bacon lived through the experiences of
WWII and is considered one of the greatest artist post-WWII.
His art style was influenced by Picasso and Cubism then turned more
towards Surrealism until he began drawing human figures. Most of his work
was large in size and depicted a single person in pain or dreary mood
placed behind a cage or in front of black backgrounds. He wanted to
capture the despair and sadness of his subjects. A majority of his portraits
had disfigured or morphed faces and hanging animal cascasses. His
famous Screaming Pope paintings were inspired by a painting made by
Diego Velzquez of Pope Innocent X in 1650. A common theme throughout
his body of work was to show the suffering and alienation we all feel while
reflecting his rugged past.
As for the color scheme, black, blues white and yellow are rather
prominent. His paintings are up for sale for millions of dollars.

Francis Bacon News Archive. (n.d.). Retrieved

May 18, 2015, from News

Art Style and Techniques

As for the color scheme, black, blue, white
and yellow are rather prominent. This
painting is called Figure With Meat painted
by Francis Bacon in 1954. When looking
closely at the work it can be seen that the
figure is made up of quick and thick
brushstrokes. The empty black
space left between lines gives the illusion of shadow and depth. An interesting
detail is that although the shapes arent clearly defined it is easy to make out
where all the features are located and how they form facial features. This
strategy can be seen in the meat as well. It seems as
though Bacon created images by adding light to them as
opposed to darkening shapes. His shadows were already
present in the black background, he used colors only in
areas where light would expose them. Another
observation is that no color is truly bright, even the white
such as in the collar of this painting is dulled with the use
of gray. His paintings also seem to create a sense of
confined space by adding slight lines to define where
walls begin and meet. Lack of surrounding details forces
all the focus on the subject intensifying the emotion of
darkness and isolation.

Figure With Meat by Francis

photograph taken at the Art Institute of Chicago

Regional Artist: Karl Jahnke

Karl Jahnke is a regional and local artist with
multiple gallery showings in Wisconsin, Illinois, California
and New Mexico. Jahnke works with both painting and
sculpture to create beautifully disturbing portraits of
humans and scenery. His paintings tend to have smooth
blending and use abnormal colors such as blue, red and
purples in place of skin tones. There is a strong sense of
Surrealism in a lot of his work as well as disturbing or
scary aspects such as adding insects or creepy animals
on cute/ innocent objects.
As an artist I often feel as though I am taking the
long way home. Every piece represents a different
journey, provoking questions and new lessons, each
fueling a desire to see what comes next. This
anticipation, this discovery, is what above all else drives
my art and produces works that are woven with affection
and passion. Each sculpture or painting is more than a
piece of art - it is an intimate reflection of a newly
discovered adventure.
-Karl Jahnke

Self portrait by Karl Jahnke

"Facebook Logo." Facebook. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.
pnref=lhc>. Karl Jahnke Photos

Style and
Jahnke uses a variety of
different mediums such as oil
paintings, ceramic, felt, wood
and so forth. It seems a large
portion, if not all, his work
portrays fictional characters
and images. His smooth
brushstrokes add realism to
his pieces and create soft
edges that seem to blend into
backgrounds range from a
simplistic mix of two dark
colors, to solid black then to
intricate settings. This can be
seen in the three examples
shows below to the right.

Molting Chicken
Karl Jahnke
Jahnke, Karl. "Paintings." Karl Jahnke. 2008.
Web. 26 Jan. 2016. <>.

Karl Jahnke

Style and Techniques

Frog Cupcake Topper with Mouse
Karl Jahnke
It is clear how his tones change drastically from dark to light adding
depth to the work while still transitioning smoothly. His use of dark and
light colors creates a contrast and balance between objects and the
background. Not many of his paintings demonstrate the use of fore
and background but rather put emphasis on the subject in the center
of the canvas. The painting on the right is an oil painting by the name
of Frog Cupcake Topper with Mouse by Karl Jahnke and it accurately
demonstrates the observation I stated. The frog is seen in the middle
of the image and off to the left to create an asymmetrical composition.
The only object that is slightly in the foreground is the white mouse
yet it still blends in with the side and back of the cupcake. This
strategy makes the painting looks realistic and three dimensional all
while giving the illusion of being flat and lacking visual depth.
Contrasting to most of his other works, this particular painting is light
in color scheme and uses a lot of pastel colors like light blue and pink.
The brushstrokes are smooth and connected making the image
almost seem blurred or as if the colors were fusing into one another.

Jahnke, Karl. "Paintings." Karl Jahnke. 2008. Web. 26

Jan. 2016. <>.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
uses colors that
blend in together
making the overall
painting look dull
and discolored.

Quick, thick
creating blurry
images like in the
screaming pope.

main focus
was on


Karl Jahnke

Strong artistic style that depicts

Karl Jahnke will add in
emotion through color, texture and
bright colors like red
placement. Color is extremely
and yellows to create a
important in any artwork, it helps interpret the
strong contrast
emotion and mood of a piece while giving insight as
between objects.
to what the artists themselves felt whilst creating it.
Bacon and Jahnke use dark tones of blue and purple
while using black as a solid background color to
slow and careful
bring attention to the foreground where the main
brushstrokes to
image is. They also seem to have similar strategies
create smooth
when it comes to laying down colors, shadows blend
into the background while other colors pop out as
being hit by light, despite being dark shades of
normal colors.
explored more
mediums such as
sculpture and
dreamlike concepts taking
found object
everyday objects or people
and twisting them into morbid

Shadows of Conflict
Shadows of Conflict is one of the art works I am choosing to
focus on and compare, done by Karl Jahnke in oil. By the looks of
it the painting is presumably about war and soldiers taking shelter
in what little space they have available to them.
The overall emotion emanating from this piece is fear, sorrow and
misery. I also get a sense of anxiety and hatred from the men
depicted in the painting. Anxiety of what is to come and the
uncertainty of their lives in that very moment. The man on the
lower left seems mad and even disappointed in the viewer. The
people's gaze goes beyond the canvas as to break the fourth wall
to look directly at the audience. There is a strong sense of
asymmetrical balance with all the soldiers sitting on one side and
then having a single soldier standing, as opposed to sitting like
the rest, on the other side of the frame. A sense of guilt floods
into my mind. I interpret this piece as a reality check of our
comfort while others are fighting in war just to maintain our
freedom to be comfortable. With all our comforts we still dont do
anything beneficial making me think their efforts are worthless,
and they know it. They want the viewer to feel it too.
Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Paintings. Retrieved May 18,
2015, from

Sculpture: Untitled Mixed Media

This untitled mixed media sculpture by Karl Jahnke is one of many of
what seems to be a series of blue-skinned human hybrids. These
sculptures are large and stand over six feet tall consisting of different
mediums and cast resin as well as wood. Ceramic work also seems
to be a strong skill Jahnke possesses as several of his art work
involves the use of ceramics.
This piece, along with others, show a confused facial expression and
discouraged body language and posture. The blue tint of the skin
makes the character feel cold and distant from present time. Truly an
odd choice in clothing, the red from the overalls nicely compliments
the blue skin. They first thing that popped into my mind about this
piece is how it has four arms, the rest of the body is normal except
for the missing lower half of his body. The overall material seems
slick and dirt proof which can mean the subject is involved in heavy
work where normally seen as a deformity, extra limbs may come in
An entire story develops in my mind as to a mutant outcast forcefully
works rough jobs to fit in and make a living. The wooden frame is
cozy but not overwhelming, Jahnke creates pieces that can speak for

Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Sculpture. Retrieved May 18,

2015, from

Comparing Works: Karl Jahnke







Study for portrait II

This study portrait by Francis Bacon is only one of his
many observational artworks. Bacons signature black
background is demonstrated in this art work along with his
use of yellow, white and purple. As prior stated brighter
colors are used to drag attention to the main subject of
paintings or drawing, in this case the pope.
Bacon completed other pope paintings aside from this one.
The man in this image has a somber facial expression and
clear identity or distinguishable facial features. Black
creates the illusion of eye sockets but no pupil or iris is
shown. Almost as if to be applied artwork that can only be
appreciated if looked at closely. The edges on this piece
are very soft and light unlike others he had done. There is
a vague chair outline in yellow which he usually uses to
represent chairs or room corners. This particular piece has
no room boundaries giving it an eerie never ending plane
of existence.
Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells for $27.5M ArtNews. (2007, February 10). Retrieved May 18, 2015, from

In both of these artwork pieces
there is excellent use of dark colors
to see the gloomy mood. Black is a
signature trademark for both of
these artists, although more so of
Francis Bacon, to start off a solid
background. Yellow and white are
used as highlights and make smaller
details pop out. These light colors
give the visual of being further away
from the background although they
lay flat on a painting.

Shadows of Conflict
Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Paintings. Retrieved
May 18, 2015, from

Both have similar body positions

(sitting) as to seem relaxed or
weary. The lack of eyes makes the
images even creepier as their
identity is hidden which can make
some viewers uncomfortable.

Study for Portrait II

Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells
for $27.5M - ArtNews. (2007, February 10).
Retrieved May 18, 2015


Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Paintings. Retrieved May 18, 2015,


Jahnke explores more

detailed backgrounds unlike
Bacon. Bacon focuses on a
single subject for his paintings
while Jahnke can but is not
limited to one person. The
image on the left shows how
many people he is willing to
Much more detail is present in
Jahnkes paintings compared
to Bacons simple
composition. Not all of
Jahnkes paintings show this
level of detail but for the one I
chose to compare there is a
significant difference. Bacon's
work still has a sort of
effortless look, not overdone
or over complicated.

Close ups of Shadows of Conflict-Karl

Jahnke (left) and Study of Portrait IIFrancis Bacon(right).

Somber facial expressions are
common and are shown in both
of these pieces of work. Although
they show different emotions the
main idea of solitude and
confinement is present. There is
no secondary character in their
pieces, just the main subject
experiencing their environment
and contemplating.
The use or light clashing with
dark colors is also prominent and
can clearly be seen in the
clothing of both works. It is also
peculiar that neither of their
heads are showing, they both
are covered with a hat and it is
unsure as to why they have them
since they couldve easily been
done without them.
Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Sculpture. Retrieved May
18, 2015, from

Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells for $27.5M - ArtNews. (2007,
February 10). Retrieved May 18, 2015, from

The main difference from the
beginning is the use of different
mediums. I thought it would be
interesting to compare two
pieces that are made of entirely
different materials. Jahnke demonstrates
spectacular construction of facial features in a
three-dimensional plane. His background is no
longer black but consists of wood and is better
lit, therefore he uses brighter colors like light
blue and deep red.
Francis Bacon also uses blue for skin tones but
does not go in depth with facial features. Slight
shading or lack thereof gives the viewers mind
just enough information to make out a face. The
expression is vividly devastated compared to
that of Jahnkes sculpture that show more of a
confused and concerned feeling.
Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Sculpture. Retrieved May 18,
2015, from

Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells for

$27.5M - ArtNews. (2007, February 10).
Retrieved May 18, 2015, from

Connections to Personal Art

Both Francis Bacon and Karl Jahnke have influenced my artwork
and have inspired me to further experiment with different techniques. The
main concepts I attempted to integrate into my work were brushstroke
technique, color usage and composition. Of all my body of work I have
chosen to compare a self-portrait made during the summer as a part of
12 self-portraits. This piece is emphasized around self awareness and
the process of becoming more comfortable with myself in varying
situations. As stated earlier in the comparative study, I am fond of morbid
themes and experimenting with them in different ways. The use of
morbid concepts highlight an inner interpretation of humans in my
opinion. I feel like it shows a literal aspect of human anatomy by
demonstrating the organs and skeletons inside that make up our bodies.
I also see it as how our personalities can be distant from our human
bodies, in a way taking away the importance of the human vessel.
Focusing on this idea I painted a self-portrait that would depict me
internally, physically and mentally. The goal was to show how I can no
comfortably step away from the idea of physical appearance in order to
paint myself in normally uncomfortable ways. At the time I was also
struggling with a family issue that was tearing me apart. As a result this
painting embodied my frustration and how I felt distant from who I
thought I was. This then led to me growing as an individual leaving
behind an old version on myself.

Brushstrokes: Personal v. Francis Bacon

Acrylic on Canvas

Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon

Sells for $27.5M - ArtNews. (2007,
February 10). Retrieved May 18, 2015,

A difference between my work and Bacons is

Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells for
that I tried to further define facial features so it
$27.5M - ArtNews. (2007, February 10). Retrieved
May 18, 2015, from
would be easier to tell who the subject of the is. Although the similarity is that the
eyes are kept closed and the face has patchy
and short brushstrokes using blue as a shadow
It was difficult to go against my judgment and paint very freely to imitate Bacons quick brushstrokes. Bacons lines create figures
with minimal detail but still clearly outline important characteristic such as arms and heads. I tried to recreate this effect in the
images in the middle of the page that were part ot the arm, shoulder and side torso of my painting. I tried to show where the
shoulder joint began while not using hard lines to outline the body part making it look flat and two dimensional. I compared this to
the image in the upper right because it relates to the popes purple coat that is made of short, choppy brushstrokes of different
colors to add depth and texture.


Personal v Karl

I approached this technique by thoroughly
creating a gradient from black to a rust color red.
I wanted to develop visual depth in my piece
even with a single subject, unlike Jahnkes oil
painting that has multiple subjects and has a
clear sense of depth. With the use of foreground
and background that are enhanced by subject
placement within the frame.
Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Paintings. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from

As for the organs, they were also meant

to be blended together with a slight outline in the
same color just to slightly set them apart from
Karl Jahnke often uses intense blending to establish a
each other. It was more challenging to create
feeling of colors bleeding into each other. This effects makes
depth even with such intense blending, this is
the painting look blurry and mysterious because it lacks clear
where I think my piece was different from that of
characteristics that provide identity. The faces are blurred out
into black that seem to just disappear into the shadows of the Jahnkes as it doesnt demonstrate the same
military jackets. This connects to the title of the piece, Shadows amount of mystery and unknown identity as
Shadows of Conflict.
on Conflict, because the figures indeed give off a sense of
being shadows that fade into darkness.


Personal v Francis
Bacon v Karl Jahnke

Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells for $27.5M - ArtNews.

(2007, February 10). Retrieved May 18, 2015, from

Both my work and Jahnkes contain a lot

of red and brown in alternating shades.

I found that red is an intense color that

nicely contrasts with the black
background, or brown wooden
background in Jahnkes case.

My decision for skin tone remained

normal as opposed to blue skin because
I wasnt aiming to precisely copy
Jahnkes or Bacons artistic choices. I still
wanted the self-portrait to be realistic and
true to who I am.

The color yellow was also used in my

piece that didnt show up much in
Jahnkes work but is a common color in
the work of Francis Bacon.

Plentiful amounts of white paint were

used in my painting as rough color bases
and how subtle highlighting of stretched

Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Sculpture. Retrieved May

18, 2015, from

Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Paintings. Retrieved May 18,

2015, from


Self-portrait. Sheyla Hernandez 2015.

Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Sculpture. Retrieved May

18, 2015, from

Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells for

$27.5M - ArtNews. (2007, February 10). Retrieved
May 18, 2015, from

All explored artworks focus on a single subject except for the oil painting done by Jahnke that depicts multiple unidentified
soldiers. I chose to keep the focus on the main subject without drawing attention to any intricate backgrounds.
Another similarity is that no eyes are shown facing forward, the yes always seem to be closed or avoiding direct eye
contact with the viewer. This was intentional to disconnect the viewer from the piece as if they were only spectators and
could not influence the subjects in each piece.
Shadows of Conflict provides more movement in the work of art than the other two works I chose to compare.
My painting is focused on the face and abdomen, in turn lacking arms and legs as they do not stay within frame. This can
also be seen in Francis Bacons study portrait II where the arms and legs are hardly interpreted. As opposed ot Jahnke
who even included extra appendages to the large sculpture piece.

Works Cited
"Facebook Logo." Facebook. Web. 29 Jan. 2016. <>. Karl Jahnke Photos
Francis Bacon News Archive. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2015, from News Archive.htm
Home Page Wis-Ill Cat Fanciers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2015, from
Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Paintings. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from
Jahnke, K. (n.d.). Sculpture. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from
Study for Portrait II by Francis Bacon Sells for $27.5M - ArtNews. (2007, February 10). Retrieved
May 18, 2015, from
Lubbock, Tom. "Great Works: The Death of Sardanapalus (1827), Eugne Delacroix." The Independent. Independent Digital
News and Media, 22 Oct. 2011. Web. 30 Oct. 2015 .
"Francis Bacon Biography." A&E Networks Television. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
"Sacred Monster." Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
"See Karl Jahnke's Artwork in Exhibit at Elgin Studio." Daily Herald. 30 Apr. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.