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A few years ago my wife and I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman perform in,”Death of a Salesman”,on Broadway. The entire cast was unbelievable, but I particularly remember being affected by the final scene, which was a heated emotional exchange between Mr. Hoffman and Andrew Garfield. To say it was intense, would be an understatement. I was almost uncomfortable watching it unfold, but still I sat on the edge of my seat hanging on to every yelling word that was mingled in with tears of rage. I was beyond moved. After the performance, when the entire cast met on stage, held hands and bowed, Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Garfield were both still breathing heavy and in tears. At that moment I realized what an emotional toll a performance like this must take on the soul. I wondered what event in their lives did they bring up in their minds to draw such concentrated pain, anger and grief from. The experience stuck with me.

ROUGHS-1

First rough sketch and color study I did.

When I learned of Mr. Hoffman’s passing in early February, I have to admit, it came as a shock. The nature of how he died gave me a slight idea of where he drew his emotion from during his performances. He was obviously struggling with his own demons and I imagine that he brought personal issues to the forefront of his mind that ate him away slowly.

ROUGH-2

This was the final drawing that I did followed by another color sketch. I wasn’t feeling confident about the likeness, so I did the color sketches just to make sure I was moving in the right path.

Anyway, I won’t even try to rationalize or pretend that I understand him as a person, because we never met. I can only say that he was an artist, and I’m sad that we lost one of our own. Watching him perform live was inspiring.

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 12.20.06 PM

I wanted the portrait to be understated. Nothing over the top. I just wanted to capture the emotion in his face.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN BY DAVID COOPER

Here’s to you Mr. Hoffman.

D.

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