Family History Through Art
I have been painting as a professional artist for many years now, everything from wild life art to portraits. By far the most rewarding of all my work, however, has been the historical portraits. I began doing these pieces of art years ago for a friend, who commissioned me to do a portrait of his grandmother. I included, in the background of the painting, scenes taken from her old family photographs--pictures of her parents and siblings, her wedding and her own children, and many of the important places in her life's history. When his grandmother had to move into a retirement home, because of her failing health, the one thing that she asked to take with her was that painting. Later, my friend related to me how much joy that painting had brought to his grandmother over the years there. He said his grandmother would tell all her friends and visitors, in the retirement home, the story of her life, as she would point out the pictures in the painting on her wall. He explained how much that meant to her, and how having that painting on her wall helped her remember all those special times in her life.
The Historical Painting of "Big Gust"
Later, I did a historical portrait of the Sheriff of Grantsburg, Wisconsin, "Big Gust". He was born in the 1800's and was a giant of a man in his day, 7 feet 6 inches tall, and weighed over 300 pounds. He was a famous legend even in his day, and they called him the "gentle giant". When a fight would break out in the local bar, Big Gust would simply walk in, grab the two gentlemen under his arms, and take them to jail (their feet dangling in the air). In the background of his portrait, I tried to include many of the highlights of his colorful life. I donated the painting to the city of Grantsburg, and I believe that it is still hanging in their city hall.
Today, I am still painting portraits of the elderly. I have just completed one recently-shown above. I usually paint the person in color and choose to paint their history in monochromatic colors, such as the one shown, in brown tones--this gives the most emphasis to the person in the foreground as the fainter background colors portray their history. Half of all monies I receive for my art goes to produce books and DVDs for the deaf, which is my primary goal.
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