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Art With "Forever" Meaningfulness

What makes a personalized painting worth the investment? This concept eludes most of us in the day of digital click-and-share photos. The elusive idea that makes a portrait a treasure seems non-existent, until the light suddenly clicks, and the whole idea begins to materialize. After this, nothing else will replace the painting that results. It will be nothing less than a timeless treasure, telling a story to everyone who sees it.

What is that element? It's not just WHO is in the painting ... but it's WHAT else is in the painting ... and often WHERE the setting for the painting is.

For client, Lee Butler, Genera, USAF Ret, these elements unfolded one-by-one as he and Kim talked about how to set the painting. Lee's life has been one of rich opportunities, investments of his time, talent and resources, and as Lee shared his story, it became clear what the portrait would have in it. A little peek into that conversation follows:

Lee retired from the Air Force as a 4-star General. As a nod to this, you will see in the background of his portrait his retirement flag encased in a General's personalized flag sleeve. He wrote a published autobiography, and that is seen under his right hand in the portrait. As a flight officer, he flew many aircraft, and a model of one of those is on the table in his portrait. He was featured in author and photographer Michael Collopy's book "Architects of Peace: Visions of Hope in Words and Images" which lies under Lee's autobiography. A pewter platter, a farewell gift from his troops at the Strategic Air Command (SAC) sits nearby. Lee is a gifted pianist, and so his piano sits in the background with his favorite hymn, "In The Garden" open. But, the most significant item for Lee is the portrait of his wife. Lee and Dorene served their country side-by-side, raised two children, and were gifted with six grandchildren who they love dearly. Dorene was his life-partner and the love of his life, and she passed recently. Finally, the location Lee chose was in front of the impact wall in his personal suite at home. He designed this wood-enhanced wall personally and dearly loves his space.

This carefully curated setting will always have meaning to Lee, and in the years to come, will too for his family. Everything in the portrait has a meaning. (see the portrait at:

Possibly even more important...this conversation also brought to light that Lee didn't have a good portrait of his wife. So it was our privilege to work on one and present to him a beautiful bust painting of his wife, Dorene. This portrait hangs in his suite and Lee finds himself drawn to sit and talk to his precious Dorene Sue sometimes...what a lovely salute to the love and life they shared.

What would you surround yourself with in your portrait? Who else would be in the portrait? Where would be the setting of your portrait?

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