Posts Tagged ‘art’

The Kid graphite on paper (19.5 x 23.3″)

In the midst of some recent, long overdue studio “house cleaning” I recently came across a 30 year old drawing I had done in preparation for a commissioned portrait of the son of a gentleman who was at the time an internationally prominent boxing promoter.

I chose to pose the 4 year old boy with arms draped over a low hip wall on a deck corner in the familiar pose a fighter strikes while in his corner awaiting the round opening bell. It suited his personality to a tee. I often wonder where this little guy, now a young man in his mid-30’s, ended up. Even at the tender age of 4 he had a presence that definitely drew your attention. And, as you can see, lots of hair. I should be so lucky!


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Ray Matthis Oil on canvas (12 x 16″)

This is a portrait I just completed of Ray Matthis, the father of my dear sister-in-law Deanna Mandish. Ray passed away in June of 2008. I worked from some photos I took of Ray on Easter, 2008, 3 months before his death. He was one of the few human beings I’ve ever met that I would characterize as “Golden”, a man with a heart of gold and a bottomless wellspring of generosity. People witnessed to his generous spirit at his memorial service, some of them strangers to the family, recounted acts of kindness the family itself had no knowledge of as Ray had not seen fit to take credit. Below is an excerpt from Deanna’s eulogy to her father, Ray.

“…His unconditional love for those of us who were fortunate enough to know and love him, and know with certainty how much he loved us, was unwavering. His generosity was unparalleled. We are quite certain that we will never know all the good deeds he did, all the checks he wrote for someone less fortunate, the pies he baked, the errands he ran, the help he offered, the quiet acts of service, the many kindnesses he extended. He was not perfect. On rare occasions he was grumpy and short tempered, but, his character was steadfast. He was quick to say “I love you” and just as quick to say, “I’m sorry” when he was wrong. His heart was soft as butter…tears sprang to his eyes easily and pride in those he loved was enormous. He was easily touched by simple acts of kindness and his wobbly chin was well known to his family and those closest to him. He was a strong, manly man with a work ethic rarely seen in our world today, but, he was also gentle and not afraid to be silly and to laugh with glee. He loved babies and roses and wood working and his tomatoes. But–most of all, he loved his family and all of us who are gathered here today to love him right back. He was faithful to his commitments, to his family, his church and his friends. If he made a promise, he kept it. He touched others deeply, whether the people he sat with at church or his favorite waitress, Angela, at the Early Bird Cafe. He had faith and he knew where his next stop would be. If he could speak to us today, he’d tell you “it’s all true!” and he’d tell us to meet him on the other side. Because, just as you loved him, he loved you, too. “The gift of God is eternal life.” Say yes to the gift. Be there. He’ll be there to welcome you just inside the gate.”

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Head Study of My Father oil on canvas (9″ x 12″)


Eulogy delivered at Memorial Service  for Mike Mandish

Smile, though your heart is aching,
Smile, even though it
s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
ll get by

 If you smile through your fears and sorrows,
Smile and maybe tomorrow
Youll see the sun come shining through
For you

I love this song. It’s a classic. It’s childlike in its simplicity and it was written by a man who made a career of making us laugh amidst the pathos, never failing to remind us that life and love are the most precious of gifts — and it’s a song that always reminds me of my Dad. The man whose crooked smile was a constant reminder that the glass was not only half full but much of the time completely full. Just as Jesus reminds us in the gospels that our heavenly Father provides for us all that we need — not to be confused with what we momentarily want.

So it was that my father imparted that same wisdom to me as well as the rest of his children, that it was only with an attitude of gratitude that we could hope to fully partake in all that the Lord in all his goodness and grace has afforded us.

The portrait of my father that greeted you as you entered this service is an enlarged print of a smaller head study in oils that I painted of my Dad. That picture of the man with the crooked smile was done as a preliminary study for a larger painting that I intended to do of him that actually has his hands raised, palms out, effectively framing his face like so (demonstrating gesture). The hands were to be in sharp focus and the face was to be softened even slightly blurred, so as to push it to the background. So I was left with the challenge of creating a likeness but making it somewhat indistinct and, in order to preserve a likeness and yet distort it, you must first be very familiar with that likeness. Not to bore you with the process but basically, knowing my Dad would not want to sit and model endlessly, and knowing that he never minded having his picture taken, I took a lot of pictures of him along with his hands and, even though not one of the photos captured him entirely as I see him, together they helped me build a likeness of him that matched my image of him, crooked smile and all. But his hands — when I looked at all the pictures of his hands, BIG hands my Dad has — I thought, my God, it’s as though I’m looking into his whole history and every fold and furrow in that generous display reminded me of a time when those hands forged steel, poured cement, laid tile, laid pipe, laid bricks, hammered nails, crafted furniture, carved wood, swung my Mother on the dance floor and gently held babies. Ah but, lest we forget, with one hand driving at high speeds, the other hand sweeping like a pendulum of doom across the back seat to correct two overactive, quarrelsome sons in one felled swoop.

Long before Nike coined the phrase my father was the “Just Do It” poster boy. He was not afraid to tackle any job and he used those big hands inevitably and selflessly in service to others. I know because many times I was the beneficiary, especially after buying my first home. And I was just one of a multitude who benefitted from his service.

I’ve had a very rough year. But I’ve had the original painting of the man with the crooked smile in my studio throughout this time, looking down on me and it reassures me continually that the crooked smile is not a smirk, or a patronizing smile, or a laughing at you smile. It’s a smile that says: “I know exactly what you are struggling with. I know how daunting these challenges appear. I know exactly who you are and what you’re made of AND I LOVE YOU.”

Allow me to take this moment to say, I love you Dad!

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Happy Hour graphite drawing (12.13” X 8.38”) Also available in limited edition giclee print

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