What can you expect from a high school reunion? Presumably you can expect to catch up with some friends who you haven’t seen since your teen years. Maybe you can expect to be surprised by the appearance of some your long lost friends, or by the life choices they have made. But would you ever expect to come away from a high school reunion with a commission to paint a portrait of Donald Trump?
That is precisely what happened to Helena Renwick when she visited to her hometown of Sarnia to meet up with some friends from High School.
“It was an informal little dinner that we had,” Helena says, “but there were a few people there who I hadn’t seen in probably 30 years. There was one gentleman in particular who is a business owner in Sarnia and I discovered that he really likes Donald Trump. Through the evening we were talking about what I have been doing and I told him I had been painting and he says, ‘well could you do me a portrait of Donald Trump?’. I kind of laughed but he was very serious. He wanted a fairly large oil painting of Donald Trump to go in his office.”
Turns out, he was indeed very serious, as he offered Helena a generous commission to do the painting and supplied her with his favourite photo of Trump from which to work. Helena came back to Huntsville and set up her studio. For three weeks she stared at Trump’s face.
Honestly, it was the weirdest thing because I’m obviously not a Trump supporter. I don’t particularly like his politics and I don’t like the man himself so to have him in my studio all that time and to look at him was quite the challenge.
Helena Renwick on painting a portrait of Trump
Helena says she was often tempted to paint him in a satirical manner, or to add a subliminal message, but she was able to keep those impulses at bay. Her mother, however, was not so congenial.
“I had to set him up in my Mom’s living room,” Helena tells the story, “and my mother was appalled. She couldn’t believe Donald Trump was in her living room. She wanted to cover him with a sheet.”
However, Helena’s high-school friend, turned successful Sarnia businessman, was thrilled with the large portrait telling Helena that he couldn’t wait to hang it in his office for his staff to see.
“It was an odd thing to do but I am glad I did it,” Helena says. “I’m glad I did it because it was practice for me for painting but also because it made him very happy.”
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