“Will you paint a portrait of me?” I always ask for an image before I agree to do a portrait because I can usually tell immediately upon sight whether or not I can paint someone. The ability to paint a portrait is partially about technique but mostly about spirit. It's about what I see beyond the picture and an executive decision about what my spirit is connecting to as a result of recreating their image. There will forever be a spiritual connection when something happens through you.
Carolyn Butts is the CEO of African Voices Magazine. Beyond the gratitude I have for being able to participate in our tribute to Kalief Browder last year, I am grateful for her kindness. I walked into The 1199SEIU Gallery to be greeted by her illuminating hello and warm embrace. The space immediately felt like home. Every conversation we've held since has been filled with the same love energy.
There is a level of trust that is gifted to the artist. The often subconscious acknowledgement that you both shared enough of a beautiful connection that you can paint them with care and respect. There is magic in the fact that they have a picture, two poems and a collage as a reference. This being complimented by the trust that you will find the image they need.
The real joy though...the real joy is when they come face to face with the art. When pure adolescent laughter ripples up from the deepest parts of their soul. When they compliment the work but are really acknowledging their own beauty that you were honored to capture. The way they see the colors and random details that they hold in high regard and now associate with their self. The sight of them reaching out to touch and connect to their art.
I had to release this work into it’s forever home and I did it with gratitude. Thank God for support. Thank God that my art will exist in the world far after I leave it behind. Thank God that she likes it, that she loves it. Thank God for creativity. Thank God for allowing it to come through me.