The Portrait of the President

 The Parts Festival continues! This was the second last MOC I build for it, but don't worry, there is actually more than one left. This is also something like a half-semi-character build, and it began as the very first tablescrap for the Festival. Text published here has more political depth than the one posted in New Elementary. Enjoy, and thanks again to Tim and Elspeth.

This MOC is in a way a character build, but obviously very different from what I usually build! Person in the portrait is Urho Kaleva Kekkonen (1900-1986), the eighth president of Finland. His reign lasted from 1956 to 1982, over 25 years, which is unusual in democratic country that limits its president’s career to two six-year terms. He’s seen as somewhat autocrat-y, stepping over the parliament couple of times and giving stern feedback to the journalists, but even today widely respected as president who directed Finland in the currents of the Cold War as a neighbouring country of Soviet Union. Kekkonen was known as a sportsman, fisherman and skier, something like an imposing figure over whole Finland quarter a century.  

Kekkonen is also known for his quite caricature-like look: Bald head and big black-framed eyeglasses. When I first studied the seed parts, the 3x3 dome remined me instantly of Kekkonen’s bald head: the most iconic portraits of him are in black and white, so light bley worked perfectly, and 3x3 was excellent size for my usual character models. I made the head quite fast – it was the first thing built for the Parts Festival. The most interesting bit here might be the minifig hands used on the glasses; I like how the crop the round dome part from the more angular head area.
The head was on my table for a month, and several other builds were started and finished along it, until I decided to finally complete it. I wasn’t really interested in building whole figure in suit, as it didn’t offer any fresh challenges. The figure would also be in black and white, which I think would be acceptable for a person familiar from black and white photographs, but even still, many people would have though him as zombie or something! I though I’d make it a bust, as the most important piece use was the dome. However, a bust didn’t feel very inspiring. Fortunately, and idea stuck me – make it a portrait! Having president portraits isn’t that rare in Finland (and as a side note, current President Niinistö’s official portrait looks absolutely photoshopped), and they’re always in black and white, so the idea felt naturally working.

I first though of making the wall sand green, as it’s respectable colour, something that might work in neoclassical or empire-style environment associated with sites of Finnish politics and government. I didn’t have enough sand green, though, so I looked other options. Old light yellow would have been perfect, but I didn’t have that much, maybe, even though my old light yellow stock is quite decent! I thought of tan, but I wanted to use it in the frame (as birch) and some brighter shade would have created better contrast with the black and white portrait.

I ended up using dark turquoise. It looks medium azure in the photos: direct, cold daylight makes it look bluer than it actually is. But it looks very nice and is not that far from neoclassical colour schemes I mentioned. I thought of adding ornamental frieze on a top, but settled on simple wall structure without any detail, to allow tighter cropping without losing elements of the build and giving the focus to the portrait itself. The structure includes 6x6 bay, with walls forming gradient from black to white, as in some famous Kekkonen portraits. 

The frame uses plenty of Batman bits. The circular saws give the birch frame some heaviness. As there are two different saw pieces, the frame is symmetric. 90-degree bar connectors are used on the top and bottom boards. I really like the pattern they make – even though it feels a bit prodigal using such handy pieces for ornamental purposes…



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