Faces of Humanity — Central Oregon

(Grayson, Painting by Travis Knight)

Portrait Connection, for the third year in Central Oregon, brings communities together in celebration of families facing critical childhood medical conditions. Too often, families with critically ill children face extraordinary stress without satisfactory support of neighbors and other local residents. This is not for lack of wanting to help on the part of neighbors, but too often, advocacy is far too time consuming to add to an already overloaded palette of tasks and life supporting activities for families. Many simply don’t have the time to let you know if they might need anything. 

In addition, many children show no readily visible signs of unusual medical needs, so friends may not even realize that a special situation exists. So, how do you let families know that you care? The Faces of Humanity 2020 program in Central Oregon pairs children up with fine artists to paint joy-filled portraits of these children. The portraits bring a sanctuary of peace to the family, and they also serve as an outreach to the community. You will not be able to look at the faces of the children in the paintings without wanting to extend your hand to the family. That is the goal of Portrait Connection — opening up conversations through the art of portraiture.

The variety of medical situations in children is enormous, and Portrait Connection focuses on serving families without limitation around the type of situation faced. In Central Oregon this month, families being honored with fine art portraits face childhood: cancer, rare diseases, syndromes, genetic differences, cerebral palsy and trauma. One family is petitioning State government to increase the penalty for abuse that causes permanent damage. If you haven’t heard of Ezra’s Law, there is a painting hanging at Layor Art + Design that you need to see during Child Abuse Prevention Month this April. 

To protect the children that have so lovingly been painted, along with friends and relatives, the unveiling ceremony that was scheduled has been cancelled — but the portraits will hang for the entire month of April. If it becomes comfortable and safe, come on down to Layor Art + Design (1000 Wall Street in Bend) during the exhibit to look into the eyes of all these kids, and reach into your own compassion to determine how you can support the lives of their families. 

While you’re there, take a moment to revel in the talent of the artists who contribute time to paint these portraits. Each piece of art is a creation of grace, skill and compassion. This year’s artists have stunning talent and skills. Each artist is unique and gifted; you will see a variety of styles — all beautiful. The 2020 artists for Faces of Humanity — Central Oregon include:

Rodd Ambroson — Rodd is primarily a sculptor. In this project, he traded clay for brush, which has re-sparked his resting interest in painting.

“It is dark when I come into the studio in the morning. I light the stove and feel its warmth. I clear my mind and relax into a period of fairly deep meditation. There will be miracles by the end of this day. I’m going to see the piece I’m working on differently, and the progress on that piece will open new insights into art and the world. I pick up my guitar and play some of my songs or improvise something calm and spiritually uplifting. I put on one very low light and look at the piece I’m working on. I see just the raw form; no detail. I begin work under low light. Before I’m finished, I will have tried every kind of light from every angle. My figures are intelligent and genuine in their expressions. They are more than just portraits of an individual. They represent universal human ideals and emotions. I’ve always been introspective and my figures are, as well. I like people to look at a piece and feel themselves fall into that state of mind: Joy, Serenity, Contemplation, etc.”


Pat Baehr-Ross“Thank you for this wonderful experience.”

“The thrill has never stopped! From the time I was a child, dragging a stick through the dirt creating daydream doodles, till today, moving a brush through creamy colors on my palette— thoughtfully placing brushstrokes on wood or canvas— expressing a mood that fits a moment in time… this is pure joy.” 

Pat grew up in central Oregon in a large family (nine kids, two sets of twins) with a mother who was an artist and her father, a writer. Memories of venturing out every weekend to mountain lakes and trails to the west or picnics among the junipers and sagebrush to the east helped cement her love of the outdoors. These memories have inspired the scenes she now paints. 

For 15 years Pat studied under well-known artists and authors. Some of who were Albert Handel, Daniel Greene and David Laffel, whose work still inspires and reflects her taste in painting. As a single mom, Pat supported her daughter with artwork through teaching painting classes, accepting commission work, while also painting portraits of people, pets, wildlife, floral and landscapes and many murals in homes and on walls of buildings, both where she lived and far away. 

Kristen Eisenbraun“A very special part of painting for Portrait Connection is watching a child’s personality come to life as I work and knowing that the portrait will become a lifelong treasure for a family.”

Kristen’s curious nature helps her capture the beauty and spirit of individual personalities. She developed keen observation skills over time beginning as a child on her family farm. Later she spent time working on western ranches and as an auto technician for Ferrari. Each new experience opened windows for seeing from different perspectives. 

Kristen has studied at the New York Academy of Art and Montana State U. In high school, she won the Congressional Art Competition. Recently, she was named one of the top living artists by American Art Awards and one of the “21 Top Emerging Artists Under 31” (years of age) by Southwest Art Magazine. She specializes in portraiture because she loves to draw out the spirit of the people in her paintings. She has painted around the world, and keeps a studio in South Carolina. Her favorite pastimes include rambling adventures and visiting rugged landscapes.


Ella Eland“I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to paint him… I love being able to create something special for someone, even if it can be nerve-racking to do!”

Ella Eland is a 16-year-old, self-taught artist born and raised in Breckenridge, Colorado. She has been creating since she could hold a pencil, but only started to take art seriously since she was about 11 years old. She loves the creative freedom and personal expression that comes with creating every piece. Her thoughts, ideas and likes are all inspiration that she draws her art from. She mostly draws from photos she comes across while addictively browsing Pinterest, often giving them slight twists of her own. Recently, Ella has been experimenting with photography and using her own photos as references. She is still exploring different styles and mediums to find one she enjoys the most, but she currently loves using colored pencils and paint. In 2016, she started an Instagram account (@artisteland) dedicated to sharing her work. Now, she has a following of over 1.6k and has won various online contests — one of them international. In the future, she hopes to continue to pursue art in a creative career. You can follow her at @artisteland on Instagram or contact her at artisteland@gmail.com.

Luz Celeste Figueroa — Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Luz has lived in the United States for three years. She graduated from the School of Arts in Caracas, Venezuela, and then attended the School of Arts — Arturo Michelena and Technical Colleges in Graphic Design. She was an active member of the Venezuelan Association of Artists. She participated in several exhibitions and group exhibitions in different regions of the Country.

She won first prize in the Place National Exhibition Monumental in Valencia and was selected to participate in the II MEGA NATIONAL EXHIBITION in HOMAGE TO JESUS ​​SOTO, in the museum show The Prints and Design Carlos Cruz-Diez, where she won honorable mention for Salón CABRIALES in 2007. Luz has painted multiple portraits for Portrait Connection, including one that graced the cover of Cascade A&E magazine. She loves children and is eager to paint any child who is facing hardship, regardless of the artistic challenge. 


Marie Jamieson — Throughout Marie’s career as a social worker, she focused on children in foster care and adoptive families, while also developing her interests and skills as an artist. She sees the act of bringing joy and healing through portraiture is an opportunity to pull together her passion, values and provide extra meaning to her art. People’s faces fascinate Marie. She finds it immensely challenging and rewarding to seek the spirit of the person she is painting. Working in pastels, she enjoys applying the pigment as she is drawn to how the light plays on the planes of the face as she seeks to capture that radiance.

Laurel Knight — Laurel’s portraits are timeless, evoking a universal content like a master of long ago. Each one contains story, meaning and spirit that can be seen in the eyes of the subject and will speak to people tomorrow as well as today. She is one of Portrait Connection’s most prolific artists because she cares so deeply about children. She loves to bring a note of joy to their families’ homes in the form of her gorgeous art. Laurel is a self-trained artist who has studied intensively to develop a gorgeous, classical style. She puts great care into each brushstroke and the results will make you gasp in awe. Laurel likes to paint people and she has a gift of sharing not only the subject’s being, but also that person’s emotion in the moment of her painting. You can follow her on Facebook.


Travis Knight — Light and motion are defining features in Travis’ art; he wants the viewer to feel the warmth of light and cold of shadows. Working with that light, and thoughtfully combining color Travis captures the spirit of his subject to reminds us of life’s journey. Travis is a representational artist best known for his oil paintings of wildlife and his portraits of the people of the American frontier. He was raised in Bozeman, Montana where he spent countless hours in nature appreciating the creatures of the forest as well as the people who inhabited the land long before him. Both his parents are fine artists. Travis attended Watts Atelier in San Diego, California.


Brooke Walker-Knoblich — “The first time I painted with oils I knew this is what I was meant to do the rest of my life. Everything about oil paint resonates with me. As a person who relishes corporeal experiences, the olfactory delight of linseed oil and the visual richness of glistening pigments intoxicates me. As an artist who approaches the easel with only a silhouette of an idea, the range of oil paint— from translucent glazes to opaque, juicy passages—inspires the spontaneity and experimentation that is so essential to my creative process. When paint stays wet for several days, anything becomes possible. Brushstrokes can be manipulated, scraped off, or remixed into new colors. In this flexible state, art becomes more present, more capable of capturing the subtle changes of mood and emotion. Oil painting makes me fearless in this knowing. Oil painting brings me closer to myself.” Brooke is classically trained in Europe. 


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