“Amazing Grace”

During the 1960s, now retired Ophthalmologist Charles Blair of Richmond, Virginia was completing his residency at  the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital  in Baltimore, Maryland. It was then that he and fellow specialists traveled to Algeria in northern Africa to perform missionary surgery on locals who had loss of their sense of sight. This was a common malady among people who spend their lives in the desert environment. This lady, who’s name is now lost to history, had not seen for 20 years due to cataracts. Surgery was performed on her and when the bandages were removed she looked up with the most angelic expression upon viewing the world after so long.  She and her physician could not communicate verbally but her countenance said it all. A photograph was made capturing this instant.

Dr. Blair returned to the U.S. and continued with his education and practice all the while with this photograph of the unforgettable patient. He contacted me in the spring of 2013 and asked if I would create a portrait of her in oil. Even though I rarely have done such paintings I could not decline such a challenge and honor. The painting is entitled “Amazing Grace” from the Christian hymn by the same name due to its lyrics ‘Was blind, but now I see’.  Reflecting her Muslim faith we chose the use of Arabic calligraphy in the background that spells out ‘In the name of God [Allah],Most Gracious, Most Merciful / Compassionate’.

The original photograph is seen here to the right followed by a small oil study and the final, framed oil painting with a linen canvas measuring 16″ x 12″. I am grateful to Dr. Blair to have played a part in this wonderful story.

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TAGS : Custom Paintings