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The Promise

Price: $690

Size: 18” x 24” x .75”

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Description: While I worked on this portrait of the 11th Doctor, I went back and forth over what the title should be. Initially, I was going to go with 'The Madman.' Then I considered 'The Dichotomy' because the 11th Doctor was both young and old. 'The Hipster' because his aesthetic style sort of reflected the current hipster trends. 'The Chin' because that's what several characters called him. And a few others. I landed on 'The Promise.'

The longest running narrative thread in Doctor Who is the title. Nobody knows the Doctor's real name (save River Song and one other person, which I assume is his first wife). It's sort of a running (meta)joke where characters often ask, 'Doctor? Doctor who?' Well, at the end of the series 7 finale, 'Name of the Doctor,' the 11th Doctor draws some light on the subject, though he doesn't give away his real name - "My name. My real name. That's not the point. The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you chose, it's like...It's like a promise you make." Then in the 50th Anniversary episode, we learn more about this promise:

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Clara: You told me the name you chose was a promise. What was the promise?

Ten: Never cruel or cowardly.

The War Doctor: Never give up, never give in.

So I landed on 'The Promise.' Of all the Doctors, I identify with the 11th Doctor the most. He was the Promise. He epitomizes the dichotomy of being both ancient and young at the same time. Played by a young actor but with ancient eyes. I often say that the 10th Doctor is the one I most want to be like or the one that I most want as a best friend, but the 11th is the one that I'm most like, the one that I see myself in the most. The 11th Doctor displayed symptoms of A.D.D., was socially awkward, often used non-sequiturs, had a mouth that often couldn't keep up with his brain, and cared FAR more than he ever let on. He made being nerdy cool. He made bow ties cool. Or at least, that's what he'd want you to think.

At 26 when he was cast, Matt Smith is the youngest actor to play the Doctor so far. During his tenure, he set himself apart from other Doctors with his incredible monologues. Smith has a talent for shaping words. And not just in his monologues. If you listen to him. In every episode. It's as though he treats each word like a jewel in his mouth. He's mastered the rhythm of the delivery. My favorite monologue is from the Rings of Ahkaten (watch in on YouTube). It makes me cry, uncontrollably every time I watch it. I'm watching it now. And my bladder is near my eye. You can hear the loneliness, the pain, the sorrow, the weariness in his voice. It's the best summary to the Doctor's life as I have found -

"Okay then. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll tell you a story. Can you hear them? All these people who lived in terror of you and your judgment. All these people whose ancestors devoted themselves, sacrificed themselves to you. Can you hear them singing? ...Oh you like to think you’re a god. But you’re not a god. You’re just a parasite. Eat now with jealousy and envy and longing for the lives of others. You feed on them. On the memory of love and loss and birth and death and joy and sorrow, so… so come on then...Take mine. Take my memories. But I hope you’re got a big a big appetite. Because I’ve lived a long life. And I’ve seen a few things...I walked away from the last great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained. No time, no space. Just me! I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman! And I watched universes freeze and creation burn! I have seen things you wouldn’t believe! I have lost things you will never understand! And I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken! Knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze! So come on then! Take it! Take it all, baby! Have it! You have it all!"

One of my favorite episodes is 'The Doctor and Vincent.' In the episode, the Doctor and Amy Pond visit Vincent Van Gogh. While the plot of the episode is typical Doctor Who sci-fi (saving people from something alien), the episode also addresses mental illness, using Van Gogh as the narrative platform. In my opinion, it helps De-stigmatize mental illness. When the episode aired in the UK, it ended with a hot-line offering help to those who wanted help. You don't see many TV shows do that.

At the end of the episode, the Doctor and Amy take Vincent to the future so that he can witness his art in a know that his art mattered, which is all we can hope for as artists. And while he leaves with renewed excitement and vigor, he still commits suicide at the age of 37, which shows that there's no easy fix, no easy answer to mental illness. And as someone who has dealt with severe anxiety and depression and has had several close friends with Bi-polar and other mental illnesses, it's one of the most important episodes on TV. "Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant." So to honor that episode and the pile of good things left by the 11th Doctor, I wanted to give the background a Van Gogh-esque sky.