By ROBERT LACOSTA
At 84, portrait artist Robert Whelan received the commission of his life.
A seemingly serendipitous email asked if he’d paint children with rare diseases.
“As an artist,” he said, “I could paint landscapes or still lifes, but these would be portraits with a purpose.”
Capturing the essence of two stunning young sisters suffering from Chiari Malformation evoked something in him about their portrait that was beyond the norm.
“It’s the best painting I’ve ever done!” said the accomplished artist.
Beyond the captivating beauty of the little blonds, what brought on an almost exhausting emotional response was Whelan’s viewing of a Facebook video in which the two girls described in detail the burden they carry at such a tender age.
“Watching the video was like seeing my painting come to life,” said a choked-up Whelan. “To see the process go from empty canvas to drawing to the various stages of portraiture to final completion…it was as if they were my own children. I sat in my studio and cried like a baby.”
That’s the exact reaction hoped for by Beyond The Diagnosis – the non-profit that unites art and science to inspire research and innovation of treatment of orphan-and-neglected diseases. Whelan and other volunteer artists will be featured at the group’s unique and moving exhibitions around the country. Go to beyondthediagnosis.org for more information on their locations and dates.
For more information on Robert Whelan, see robertfranciswhelan.com.
Robert J. LaCosta’s daily inspirational writing is at robertlacosta.com. To suggest seniors for this column, write [email protected] His latest book, “Portals to Heaven,” is at bookstores and through Amazon.