What's that word that describes Trump?
"What's the word to describe Trump?" I asked Heather, Chris and Corinne sitting in the living room. "It's like divisive, but not quite."
They offered a few suggestions before I drifted back to my study to ponder the question.
"Don't worry," I said. "It will come to me."
I had started my day with a decision to paint the most talked about human being on the planet right now. Prior to going on our Cuba trip I had done a pencil sketch of the same moment and enjoyed working on the contours of his face, the shape of his mouth and the of-another-world quality of his hair. It struck me that adding some colour would be fun, and a nice break from the very large family piece I had completed the previous day.
The finished product sparked an immediate and definitive reaction. People either love him or fear him. There is little to no middle ground when it comes to The Donald.
"Polarize," I said returning to the living room. "Trump is a polarizing figure."
Most of the people in my Facebook universe - lots on the personal side and several thousand more on the Russell Thomas Art side - fear the guy and what his election would mean to the world, but several strongly want him to win.
There is little question as to whether or not he has incited a movement; he has. This extraordinary turnaround in the Republican Presidential candidate selection process has overtaken the news cycle, pretty much obscuring the Democratic race. One morning on the CNN website, there were 11 top stories, 4 of which contained the word "Trump".
I often struggle with the backgrounds of my paintings, but I didn't struggle with this one. I saw what I needed to do instantly. The sloped flag in the background is the metaphorical wall that Trump is creating. Embedded in the stripes are the words from the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
There are also ghostlike figures rising from the bottom. Whether they are people crawling up the backside of the wall, or the radical right mobilizing and driving Trump's success, it's up to the viewer to decide.
From the behind the wall are streaks of light, or as some perceived, bullets.
I strive for a visual neutrality when I'm doing a journalistic piece like this portrait of Donald Trump. Imbued are my thoughts, feelings, and yes, fears. But it equally speaks to the fervent believers that Trump is going to "make America great again".
There were some fascinating responses, including one - tongue-in-cheek- from my Aunt in Las Vegas who had reached out to my parents to see if she could move to Canada and live with them if he gets elected.
"You should spend your great talent and your time painting something worthwhile," wrote one person.
"I wouldn't have wasted the paint on this racist bigot," wrote another.
"I see the next President of the United States," said one supporter.
Generally, there are polarizing views of what's happening south of the 49th. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did a brilliant job demonstrating the rhetoric of violence that has incrementally (and possibly strategically) gotten stronger in a recent piece. If it hasn't popped up on your newsfeed yet, click here to watch it.
What do you see in this painting?
Whatever it is; you are right.