PORTRAIT OF PATRIOTISM: Ken Pridgeon
Jan 11, 2017 06:53PM ● Published by SCENE MAGAZINE STAFF
At 81-years-old, Pridgeon’s artistic passion is unwavering. He told he’ll paint from six in the morning until 10 or 11 at night.
Though he has been an artist for a long time, Pridgeon admitted, “I didn’t think it was an asset for sure.” He mentioned his teachers didn’t care for his daydreaming. “I was always drawing pictures. My downfall was algebra,” joked Pridgeon. He added, “I really never thought about it being an asset. It was more a liability.” Pridgeon explained while serving in the United States Air Force, he was often asked to do “this and that and make posters and such.” Pridgeon shared at the age of 75 he discovered his artistic talents were indeed beneficial.
He related, “It’s like the old saying, ‘In the frame it’s hard to see the picture.’” Pridgeon disclosed, “I was painting John Wayne and Willie and Waylon and the boys, but many calls were coming in for portraits of fallen soldiers. I became the poor man’s Norman Rockwell.” He said, “I was retired. A lady from Old-River Winfree called me about painting her son who was killed while serving in Iraq.” He informed the portrait he painted was three-foot by four-foot and the family thought it might be too big to take home. The dilemma then became a mission. Pridgeon started “The Portrait of A Warrior Memorial Art Gallery” where large portraits of fallen heroes hang for all to view and respect. The families of the fallen receive a print of the portrait at no cost.
Pridgeon’s portraits are accurate in his comparison to Norman Rockwell. “It’s not just a portrait anymore. I tell stories through painting with images in the background,” stated Pridgeon. He revealed that he starts portraits “right in the eye away from the light.” He finishes the eye completely before moving on. Pridgeon advised, “The families look at the eyes first. It’s how I maintain that person’s identity. Then I move across the nose to the other eye. The tone values are important and must stay true.” He uses a small brush and told he takes his time; though he can complete a portrait in just two days.
Pridgeon’s big heart, extraordinary talent, and his gallery have garnered international attention. His first magazine interview was for a publication in London, England. He and his museum have also been highlighted in several other magazine articles and many television and news shows. Pridgeon has a published book he wrote titled “The Life and Times of Ken ‘The Dauber’ Pridgeon.” He is currently writing his second book, “Life Begins at 75.”
Learn more about Ken Pridgeon and his mission “The Portrait of A Warrior Memorial Art Gallery” by visiting www.portraitofawarrior.org or ken-pridgeon.pixels.com. The gallery is located at 308 W. Texas Ave. in Baytown. Other works (non-warrior themed) are on display at Mainly Drinks (223 W. Main Street) in La Porte.
By Kelley Dawson