Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Memory of David DeTore

The portrait above is especially meaningful to me. About a month ago, my godfather, Dave DeTore, passed away. To me, he was "Uncle Dave". His family were not connected to me by biological blood, but he was still a part of my family. Uncle Dave was there for every milestone in my life. Our families hunted for Christmas trees together, celebrated holidays and birthdays, attended each other's graduations, and eventually he was there to see me marry my husband.

Uncle Dave was the life of the party. I was a shy child and he helped me relax and laugh at big family parties. He always had a witty story to lighten the mood. If you were around him, you were having a good time.

He loved Maine, golf, and Jeopardy. We took Mocha on walks with his "cadre stick", a walking stick. He showed us how to enjoy life and was affectionately called "Coach". He was a coach to middle schoolers in the classroom and on the sports field. Uncle Dave has touched so many people that there isn't enough space to write all of my favorite stories.

It seems surreal that he is gone. I often admire the strength of my clients that approach me to draw a family member or pet that has recently passed away. Portraits can be extremely healing, but also serve as a visual reminder of their loved one. When a loss is fresh, it is painful, a blur, and sometimes unbelievable.

When I heard that Uncle Dave had passed, it seemed like I was a part of a tragic movie. I couldn't imagine him not being at my future milestones. I wanted to soothe the hurt that I was feeling and found a way to heal through my art.

I had been in the middle of a "funk" with my artwork and was taking a break from drawing. I didn't know how I was going to be able to draw accurately while I was so gloomy. This wasn't about accuracy, though. It was about drawing for me, to get the feelings out on paper. It was time to heal.

The result is the portrait above. I had found a reference photo that captured the essence of "The Coach". Uncle Dave is wearing his coach hat and windbreaker. Most of all, he is experiencing a proud moment. The reference photo was taken at his daughter's college graduation from Ithaca College.

The portrait was given to his family at the memorial services. Drawing Uncle Dave healed me so much that I wanted to share the healing energy with his family. There is healing energy in portraits that are created with love.

I love Uncle Dave with all of my heart, as well as Aunt Debbie and Nicole. You have been a second family to me and I am so greatful to have you in my life.