Cruz “Cibarra” Ibarra On His Inspiration for Arya Stark Portrait
Ask him to pick his favorite Game Of Thrones character and Cruz “Cibarra” Ibarra doesn’t take longer than a second to answer.
You wouldn’t know it by looking but the American artist’s painting of Arya Stark 16×20 acrylic on canvas is his first portrait ever.
Over the past year, the Game Of Thrones fan and emerging painter has been focusing on his lifelong passion for contemporary pop culture art. His artwork is currently on display at Kissimmee Art Gallery, gaming centers and comic shops around the Central Florida area.
In a revealing interview, Cibarra talks about how he started drawing, his favorite painting technique and why he adores Arya Stark.
(Please note Game Of Thrones Season 1 spoilers ahead).
When did you know you had a talent for art?
When I was very young. Maybe around five or six years old. It started because I wanted to catch my dad’s attention. He was just always so busy.
And did you get his attention?
Haha yes! He had these little Spanish magazines/story books that had provocative women in them. I grabbed a piece of paper and started drawing. It wasn’t really hard at all, it came naturally to me. I showed him and he could not believe that I drew it. He said, “I don’t believe you, do it again.” And he sat there and watched me. Now he’s my biggest supporter.
How did you get into painting?
Well painting I started just recently like a year or 2 ago but I’ve been doing art my entire life. It was mainly pencil drawing and charcoal but I knew paint was the next step. I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I mean I was accurate with the pencil, I used it my whole life. But with painting I had a tough time at first man. I wasn’t used to a brush, I was trying to use it like a pencil and it wasn’t working for me. Plus I didn’t know about the ugly stage. Every painting has this stage where it looks ugly and you just have to push through it. I think that was my biggest problem, I would always stop there frustrated. Then I just stopped my art completely.
Life punched me in the face. I had to get a job and grow up I guess. Later I got married and had 2 children. And the funny thing is it’s my children who have inspired me to start up again. My five year old son is a huge Marvel fan. And he knows his stuff man. His favorite hero is Nightcrawler so when Christmas came around we went online and there wasn’t hardly anything. So I did a painting of Nightcrawler for him and he loved it.
After I did that, I made a New Years resolution to start painting seriously again. I said I’m going to finish a painting and not stop no matter how frustrated I get. I finished Nightcrawler, Darth Maul and Arya. I went through the whole year getting back into it. This year I told myself, I’m going to sell a painting. I took my artwork to the galleries and been invited to do shows. Recently I’m doing a Mortal Kombat X release party. The event coordinator asked me to make paintings. That’s where I’m at now.
Why is Arya your favorite Game Of Thrones character?
I think I’ve connected with her the most. I mean George R.R. Martin has so many story lines going in different directions and this is the one I’m most excited about. She’s a tough little girl, a rebel. I have this really deep hope that she becomes this badass assassin to get revenge for her family.
When I first started reading the books, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I don’t think anybody did. Her father doesn’t try to punish her for who she is. This is what she wants to be, so Ned gets Syrio Forel to train her. I love that she’s water dancing. You don’t realize at this point what kind of a story this is. It’s a happy go-lucky family, the bond with her father is so sweet. I’m like OK the Starks, these must be the good guys. Then heads get chopped off and people are dying. And you have this little girl caught in the middle of it all. She has nobody. She uses her wits to survive. The story just keeps getting better and better. It’s really good character development. It’s my favorite story line, I got to know what happens next.
What was your inspiration for this painting?
I found this photo online of Arya and I just love the way she’s coming out of shadow. Most of my paintings are heavily shadowed, foreboding, menacing. I feel as if she’s coming out of the darkness and striking fear into her enemies. She’s looking down after cutting a throat. She’s supposed to be an innocent, sweet girl from a noble family but she’s enjoying this.
What painting technique did you use?
I used a technique called grisaille (A french term for a painting executed entirely in monochrome or near-monochrome, usually in shades of grey). I start out getting all the details done and making sure the tones are right. Then I paint thin layers of paint layered over my grisaille called glazing. Glazing uses light to mix the colors for you. So instead of mixing a color like purple and painting which could look flat. I glaze a blue then a red over that slowly bringing the purple out. The light goes all the way through to the monochrome and bounces back through every layered color into your eye giving the painting much more depth. This is my favorite way of painting.
What’s the biggest challenge painting Arya Stark?
The problem is that I got stuck halfway through with the skin tones. I’ve only been painting this past year. I’m still a beginner. I did a Darth Maul painting whose skin is red with black tattoos. And a Nightcrawler who has blue skin. They were easy. People’s skin is translucent, there’s so many different colors. Skin tone for a lot of beginner artists is one of the biggest challenges. Hopefully I captured her likeness. When painting, it doesn’t need to look exactly like the subject or reference photo. The artist has to make the painting his own. Just as long as people see it and recognize it’s Arya Stark, I’m happy.
Recently, Cibarra achieved his New Years resolution by selling his painting of Mortal Kombat’s Subzero vs Scorpion titled “Deadliest of Enemies”. If you would like to view more artwork from Cibarra or contact him, visit Cibarra Art at Esty.com.
All artwork copyrighted and used by permission by CRUZ IBARRA.