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Artist paints portrait of homeless woman

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A Lawton artist and follower of Christ is helping others and taking actions through love, even if it means stepping out of his comfort zone.

Robert Peterson has been painting celebrities for the past 4 years. His art work has been displayed in galleries in over 30 cities and he has presented art shows in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and Oklahoma City.  Recently Peterson decided to do something different and paint a portrait of a local woman named Priscilla, who is homeless.

He said he prayed and prayed about painting Priscilla. He says he always sees her throughout Lawton pushing a grocery basket minding her own business. He said just like anyone else she is a human being and he just wanted to do something special for her.

"This piece will the piece I present to the world. It's going to be like my Mona Lisa, said Peterson.

He spotted Priscilla at CiCi's Pizza and decided to approach her. He asked for her permission to paint her portrait and took photos. He spent about 50 hours getting the painting completed. From the outside looking in, most people judge Priscilla, but Peterson says she is just a human being.

"She's an amazing woman. She is soft spoken, she is very kind and her conversation is really good, said Peterson.

"In the Bible, it says that we are all sons and daughters of a king of God. To me she is nothing more than a lost queen. She is somebody people overlook, but she is still a queen in God's eyes, said Peterson.

This is his first time painting a picture of a homeless person. In return Priscilla only asked for a print of the painting. Peterson says it will always be something special to him because he was once in her shoes. Back in 2007 his family moved to New Jersey where he studied fashion and design. He got a student loan, but after the recession hit, the bank filed bankruptcy and he was forced to drop out of school and lost his home.

"It was by the grace of God, that we had family up there. I had a cousin up there, her and husband lived up there and they opened up their house to us. They allowed the five of us to move upstairs into their attic. Basically allowing us to get on our feet, said Peterson.

 Peterson and his family moved back to Lawton and he started working at Goodyear, but painting has always remained his passion.

"It takes a lot of work, but I enjoy doing it. It's natural, I believe it is God given, said Peterson.

In November, Peterson will present 12 pieces of artwork at The JRB Art Gallery in Oklahoma City. Of those pieces, the portrait of Priscilla is the only one that will not be for sale. Priscilla told him that she would like the benefits from the other paintings to go to the Salvation Army in Lawton because they helped her the most. Peterson hopes this portrait will inspire others to be a helping hand to those who are less fortunate.

"Don't look down on people because you never really know their story. Instead of judging the person take time to actually reach out to them. See who they are, and give them a chance, because she is an amazing person, said Peterson.

Mr. Peterson is still undecided about where he wants the portrait of Priscilla to be displayed. He hopes to have a discussion with the Mayor and other city officials on a fitting place for it.

Priscilla did not want to go on camera. She teared up and said no one has ever done anything like this for her. She said it means so much that Mr. Peterson would take time to paint her. She said she is very grateful.

After Peterson shows his artwork in Oklahoma City this November, he will travel to Miami and Denver in December to showcase works. In January he will be at Lawton's Leslie Powell Art
Gallery.

Since 2012, he has added over 500 paintings and 2,000 drawings to his collection. The portrait of Priscilla has received over 750 likes and shared over 13-hundred times on Facebook.

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