I first laid eyes on this pensive gentleman in a civil rights newspaper from the sixties called The Southern Courier. http://www.southerncourier.org/ I was captured by his eyes because I felt like they held the story of his life. I took a picture of the newspaper itself so that I could paint him. He was a sharecropper in Alabama, if my memory of the article serves me correctly. I could imagine how difficult his life must have been during that time of our history. Working hard for little pay. Taking care of a family. Fighting racism and inequality. He appears to have lived a long life...the suffering had to be long as well.
It was a challenge for me to paint him because I wanted so badly for him to look like the photo . I re-painted the canvas white a dozen times before I decided that it was good enough. His likeness is a little off, but I think that I nabbed the essence of him. He looks like a typical African-American grandfather who is about to weave a long tale of walking 5 miles barefoot, on an empty stomach, in the snow.... all to get the education that we now take for granted.