Reverend Jesse JacksonBack to Artist
Willis's penchant for copying and tracing, seen in much of his early work, becomes a modus operandi later.
Willis's penchant for copying and tracing, seen in much of his early work, becomes a modus operandi later. In the early eighties, he started receiving numerous requests for certain of his subjects that had been reproduced in books and exhibition catalogs and seen by collectors. Bored with replicating his own drawings and paintings but needing to fill the orders for economic reasons, Willis developed the idea of Plexiglas templates from which he could trace his stock images. The two most frequently requested subjects were portraits—of the artist himself or of black luminaries—and This Is It. His Two Sides of Myself, a double-sided painting on Plexiglas in which he pictures himself in both serious and clownlike aspects, became the template for many later portraits, including Rev. Jesse Jackson.