William Stidham is an inspirational artist. His series of portraits he calls the Sacred Heart series, which features mainly musicians and rock stars with a sacred heart burning on their chest, would lead many to believe he is an inspirational artist, but not in the way one would think. Inspiration lead him to start to paint portraits, inspiration lead him to the technique and it’s inspiration that leads him to his subjects. In the series Jim Morrison is his best selling portrait and the one he hangs front and center in his booth at exhibitions. When asked what’s different about his painting of Morrison, he says, “A lot of people have painted Jim Morrison, but how many have captured his anarchy that you can see in his eyes?”
All paintings courtesy William K. Stidham
Stidham is a life-long Doors fan. A high school reading of ‘No One Here Gets Out Alive’ made him a fan and launched an interest in writing. By the end of high school he was writing poetry and in his twenties he wrote a novel. A writing career never quite came together, but Stidham kept busy creatively by learning how to paint, his main medium watercolor. After 13 years he hit an impasse with his painting and was frustrated and had taken to throwing water on his paintings. He noticed it added something, to the paintings but couldn‘t put his finger on it. On the suggestion of a friend he read ‘The Tao of Willie’ (Willie Nelson) and he was inspired to do a portrait of Nelson, but when it was completed it was still missing something. Out of the blue inspiration came to him and he added a flaming heart to represent the fire of creativity that burns in all of us. For one final touch he decided to throw water on the painting to see what would happen. He threw the water on the painting and as he was blow drying the water off the painting he saw that it added a power to his paintings that had previously been missing.
I asked him what he thought the addition of water brings to his paintings and he said, “it’s living in the moment, you never know what’s going to happen as you’re brushing off the water. For instance, in the Dimebag Darrell (guitar player for Pantera) portrait, as I was brushing the water off in the corner a profile of Dimeback appeared without me planning it.”
How does he choose his subjects? “They’re all people that move me. Musicians and artists are reflections of ourselves. I look for the higher nature of those musicians, the divine lurking in each and every one of us, and that’s what affects us emotionally.” Some of the people included in the series are Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Chief Joseph, Charlie Sexton, Janis Joplin, Abraham Lincoln, Keith Richards, John Mellencamp, Kid Rock, Sting, and Snoop Dogg there are over a hundred portraits in the Sacred Heart series.
Archival prints (18 x 24) of the portraits in the Sacred Heart series are available at William K. Stidham.com (there are over 100 to choose from!).
Originally published February 8, 2014