CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Admire a John Price original and you may notice a theme.
“It is a way for them to capture a moment in art,” said John. “There is a lot of pressure."
From live weddings to landscapes, the professional artist chooses a ballet of colors pleasing to the eye.
“I just love the ambiance of Richmond,” said John.
But at the other end of the spectrum.
“That is all it is. Black and white baby,” said John.
John’s latest piece is void of vibrancy.
“You can get a lot of contrast with black and white. Plus I don’t have to worry about them fading,” said John.
The artist is going one-on-one with a president in his home studio in Chesterfield.
“You know it is interesting that I’m painting Bush as the last one because he is a portrait artist now,” said John.
A pencil drawing of George W. Bush. In fact, the 43-year-old has gotten personal with all our commanders in chief.
“Imagine getting to do what you love to do seven days a week,” said John.
John calls his ambitious project “From George to Joe.”
“People can tell when something is off. Their nose is off a little bit. Their lips. I don’t want a resemblance. I want you to know who that is,” said John.
The Georgia native took the oath and started drawing each of our 46 presidents in 2008.
“The first one was George Washington,” said John.
A task that would stretch across three administrations.
“Nobody asked me to do this. It is not a commission that I’m getting paid for. Either its going to be epic or an epic failure one of the two,” said John.
His favorite to draw was the 26th U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.
The perfectionist’s least favorite? Any president sporting facial hair.
“The ones with the beards. I hated doing them,” said John. “I didn’t hate doing them. I hated it.”
The self-taught artist uploads his freehand drawings to social media when finished. He welcomes feedback. Even if viewers think the artwork should be impeached.
“I rarely take it personally. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt my feelings from time-to-time,” said John.
John’s appreciation of American history runs deep. The U.S. Army veteran enjoys painting famous figures from our past.
“I actually took soil from the land that Harriet Tubman was raised on and ground it up into the paint so it would become a part of the paint,” said John.
John’s talents go well beyond just drawing his stately subjects.
“That is the other thing. I wrote a biography of every president. That took about a year and a half to do,” explained John.
John’s collection of stories is strictly satirical. The book? Hardly a serious study of the American presidency.
“If you want me to be honest about politics I’m very center,” said John.
It has taken 15 years, but John is wrapping up the works worthy of the White House.
“When you get to portraits it has to be dead on,” said John.
The leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties may not see eye-to-eye in their views from the Oval Office. But in John’s studio, red and blue all find common canvas in black and white.
“I can’t put into words the contentment I feel,” described John. “I want people to enjoy the art and hopefully learn something in the process. There is definitely a sense of accomplishment.”
John will be signing his books at The Brickhouse RVA on Friday, February 24 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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