This is a recent commission for the Brain family. With all the political discussions going on here in the United States and even abroad in the UK, it was a breath of fresh air to spend some time with old Abraham Lincoln. It was fun to listen to some audiobooks about his life as I painted this piece. As we have faced trials recently, may we take his advice from another time when the country was on the verge of bursting apart:
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
Recently, I was asked by my local church to do drawings for their upcoming youth trek. They are highlighting certain pioneers who traveled the Mormon Trail about a 150 years ago. I was hesitant because I have plenty on my plate as is, but as I drew these people I came to appreciate their sacrifice and fortitude. Many of my ancestors walked that trail and this experience has inspired me to research their stories.
I recently did these two pieces for the dental offices of two old friends. They went to dental school at UNC and their building was inspired by and constructed in the fashion of an old cigar factory. They wanted pieces that had some Tarheel blue and were connected to North Carolina, so we came up with this concept. What a miracle it was that flight was first achieved by two bicycle makers from Ohio who were worked tirelessly to solve any problem they met.
If you are in the SL area and need work on your mouth, look up Jon Rasmussen and Dave Stoker, they are the best in the business.
My wife and I recently spent a day at Peal Harbor. Our time there led me to pause and reflect on the men and women who choose to serve their fellow citizens by joining the armed forces. We often if not always seem to take these people for granted. I am thankful that this visit reminded me of our many freedoms and those who have served and are currently serving our nation.
This painting is about those who answer their nation's call. The Men in the Wind, 36"x 48", oil on canvas.
One of Toil and Blood, 36"x 72" diptych, oil on canvas.
Paul Davis challenged me to paint the same thing twice, approaching one in a conservative manner and the other in a gutsy fashion. I tried it a few times, but never really committed to it. So after all these years I went all in on this one. I now understand what Paul was trying to teach me.
I became interested in paintings trains and laborers after participating in a show that was based on living in the small town of Helper, Utah. I have a lot of respect for those who get up everyday, roll up their sleeves and go out into the world to make a better life for their loved ones.
As I painted this piece, I reflected on the Aesop fable about the Lion and the Mouse. Sometimes the small or the weak are deemed inconsequential in this big world we live in. Sometimes, though, it is someone from that category who steps in and saves the day.