Becoming Valor

January 17, 2019

Becoming Valor

There are pieces that I chose to draw and then there are pieces that chose me to draw them.  That was the case with Valor.  There was this general idea in my mind.  To do some type of symbol to honor the brave men and women who fight or have fought tirelessly for our freedoms-those that put our country first, they've bled for it or died for it.  I wanted to draw something that with a single glance you would not just see it but feel it.......and from that desire, Valor was born.

As I stated in previous posts, it always starts with the eyes and in this piece the eyes had to be perfect.  They were the story inside of the story....  

The project took on a life of its own becoming largest I had ever done and would take the longest to complete at 3 months.  During the time I was working on this I had prior commitments at Yellowstone National Park but I had a deadline.  I needed  to get it completed and ready to display in Grand Rapids, MI which left me with one option-take it with me and work on it when I had the chance. 

On my second evening I began to get my area ready to accommodate the amount of space I would need to work on the piece.  I removed it from its protective packaging and began securing it to my drawing board.  When finished, I turned around and a crowd had formed.  They were staring at it and discussing it.  At this point it was less than half way completed:


I knew what the piece meant to me and was humbled to see the response it  drew from those viewing it-even as an unfinished work.  For the next hour the crowd continued to grow and I spent time talking with those interested in it.  I continued to draw over the next couple of days losing count of the number of active duty or veterans who approached me to thank me for simply doing what I was doing.   People started coming back each day to see how far I had made it while others said that they had been told about the piece by someone they had run into.   On my final day at Yellowstone I was able to complete it-those who had been following the progress were excited they could see the final product.   

In keeping with my normal process, I sat and continued making minor adjustments-adding more detail here, shading darker there, etc.  When I finally put my pencil down I stood and turned to find an elderly gentleman standing with his wife.  He had on a Vietnam hat and tears in his eyes.  I stood silently next to him until he finally turned to me, shook my hand and said "Thank You".  That was it, he walked away.  But with those simple words he let me know I had accomplished what I had set out to do.

The piece was originally titled "In God We Trust" but I never really felt settled on it......when I looked at it I always felt there was something more fitting.  It hung in  Grand Rapids, MI for a while and then it came home.  

It never made it to my website.  I hung it in my personal collection, sat down and thought about the journey it had decided to take me on.  I reflected on all the people it had introduced me to.  The stories I'd heard from the bravest men and women I had ever met....stories of honor, courage........Valor.

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