In this larger-than-life portrait, a stoic Indian Chief gazes soberly toward the right side of the canvas. His gaze, however, extends far beyond the confines of the canvas, and he seems to peer into the great beyond. Perhaps he is looking out over a wild and beautiful landscape, or perhaps he is witnessing a tragedy. It is difficult to tell whether there is love or pain in his eyes, and the viewer is left to speculate on the deep emotions that he feels. His forehead is wrinkled and weathered, and he seems to contain wisdom beyond his years. The large swooshing brushstrokes that make up his form are accented by smaller strokes of bright blue, and the thick textures of the painting breathe life into image.
Kent Paulette describes his process for this painting of a Native American, “I came up with this title cause in my mind I pictured him looking east across the ocean, seeing the first ships on the horizon, and saying Stay Home.” An alternate title for this artwork is Looking East.
“The pivotal moment came when the song Simon Zealotes, Poor Jerusalem from Jesus Christ Superstar played in my long random playlist as I was painting this. Having loved that song since childhood, it inspired a spontaneous expression of violence and surrender. I put down my brush and started painting with just my hands and the white paint. Grabbing the canvas… it hurt my hands as I smeared white paint over the sharp texture. After it was over, I had to wipe the paint off my hands to make sure it wasn’t blood.
After I painted all over with my hands using white paint, it started to take on a ghostly feel. The irrationality again took over afterwards though and I ended out painting many layers on top of that. That spontaneous hand-painting layer still shows in the finished painting all over the background and throughout the face also.
I was thinking about his strength, pride, and wisdom as I was painting this Indigenous American artwork.
Wild turkeys played a starring role in the story of this painting. Each morning I’ve been waking up to the sound of the turkeys courting along with the normal dawn chorus. Constantly throughout the day, they make those courtship noises while displaying their feathers and those sounds became part of the soundtrack as I was painting this Native American. Also the hand-print in the upper right corner reminds me of the way we’d paint turkey feathers for Thanksgiving when I was growing up.
On the morning right before I posted this photo to facebook, I had to make a short drive inside the neighborhood to drop something off without interacting with any other people. There were two male turkeys in the road displaying their feathers for a female and my driving by was really cramping their style. As I passed them I felt something on my bare foot. I reach down to remove it and it turned out to be a big glob of turkey poop that I had apparently just stepped in when getting into my car. I heard one of the turkeys call out to me, “We told you to stay home!”
This painting is the newest addition to my Conquest of the Irrational series that I started back in 2015. The series isn’t related to the subjects in the paintings but rather to the style that I painted them in. I always have irrationality in my paintings, but with this series the irrationality totally takes over.”
Comments about this Native American painting posted on social media:
Annette Kirschner wrote, “Strong and fierce, wonderful work!!”
Carol Turner wrote, “Such a fine painting! Perfect title!”
Rhonda Ananea wrote, “Oh my! I’m Cherokee!!!! This is amazing! I’m fighting for their right during covid! I love this! Having Native American heritage, it really shows strength, honor, dignity, as well as hardship and pain. He will stand strong although treated less than any other race alive. His history is being ripped away, land was taken, yet look at his Pride.”
Video of this Native American painting in the sunshine: