In February of this year, 2016, I was asked by the Roswell Cancer Center Institute in Buffalo, NY to do a pastel painting of an extraordinary woman. Her name was Eva Noles. Ms. Noles happened to be the first African American woman to be accepted to and graduated from nursing school here in Western New York. She graduated in 1940 after enduring school years filled with discrimination. She and her date were turned away from her Senior Dance because of their race.
This commissioned portrait was special in many ways. It would be my first commissioned corporate portrait. It would be of the first woman that would hang in the Roswell Cancer Center’s Board Room. It would be the first person of color hanging in the Board Room. It would also be the first pastel painting hanging on the wall of the Board Room.
“I am not kidding when I say that people are going to walk into the board room and ignore the other guys, she is glowing in her spot.” This came from Dana Jenkins at Roswell Cancer Center, the member of the Art Committee who originally contacted me about doing the portrait. Needless to say I was absolutely flattered and thrilled to read those words!
My biggest obstacle with the commission was the deadline. I only had a month to complete it! Once I had my design approved by the powers that be at Roswell, I began the work and very quickly I realized I was painting someone very special. It was as if she were with me during the whole process. I connected with Eva’s dignity, drive, compassion and soul. I think you will agree with me when you view the following video tribute to her.
The original design drawing (also purchased by the Roswell Cancer Center Institute)
Pastel Pencil on RivesBFK printmaking paper 37″H x 26″W
The final pastel painting of Ms. Eva Noles
Pastel on Uart paper 37″H x 26″W
Painting Ms. Noles was one of those special moments in my art career. I hope I made her proud!