A Gene Wilder Portrait

Gene Wilder. Wow. Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka, Leo Bloom, Sigerson Holmes, Jim. Think of all his movies! A comic genius who left an indelible mark on cinema, Mr. Wilder made us laugh until we cried. He passed away yesterday. And so last night I found myself painting away at a portrait of one of his most joyous characters from one of my favorite books, Willy Wonka from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

'Willy Wonka' by David Bigler, watercolor and ink on cold press paper  

'Willy Wonka' by David Bigler, watercolor and ink on cold press paper  

Oddly, I first saw the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in my late teens. I had seen most every other Gene Wilder film but Wonka escaped me. I remember being terrified that the magic of the book would be lost. I shouldn't have worried. I was hooked as soon as Gene Wilder made his brilliant first appearance at the entrance to the chocolate factory.

My fiancé Chelsea and I share a love for Willy Wonka (and Gene), so to ease our pain I painted this portrait. I don't often draw humans and likenesses are difficult for me, but somehow this worked out. Maybe it was all of the candy I ate. I hope it is a fitting tribute to Gene Wilder's life. May your legacy live on through us all, Mr. Wilder.