It is the dream of the butterfly to be free. And when he discovers his wings, his dreams become real. As a man in captivity, I too, dream of freedom. And when, in the dark loneliness of a prison cell, I discovered art, my dreams took flight. Art has given me wings that provide a glimpse of freedom, a moment of joy - a touch of light.

 

Now I was not born an artist. As a child I enjoyed and appreciated art but never thought myself capable of creating anything of real beauty and power. I’ve had no training; no education in art. What I have in prison - in great and onerous abundance - is time. And so began my journey.

 

It has taken me years to feel worthy of creating anything that might be of value to others.  I look back at my earliest works and wonder why I kept going. But the magic of art is that the journey itself provides hope and healing along the way. My early works are signed D2; a simple reminder to Dare to Dream. my later works are signed with the wing of a butterfly in homage to the freedom that creating the art has given me.

 

when a man goes to prison he loses many freedoms. But perhaps the freedom most underrated and overlooked is the freedom to serve. It wasn't until going to prison that I realize service is a blessing, not a burden. It is an honor, not a responsibility.

 

Service, like art, has healing powers that allow us to reach outside ourselves and recognize our blessings. It gives us hope and a sense of purpose. There are precious few opportunities to serve others from a prison cell.

 

When Brigadoon Service Dogs came to our prison and created a program that enables incarcerated veterans to train service animals for disabled veterans, my life changed. as a veteran of the US Navy I was one of only a handful of prisoners given that opportunity. As I devoted 24 hours a day to train my service dog - caring for his every need while I prepared him to care for a disabled veteran - the darkness of my soul lifted.

 

that was the motivation for my “Man's Best Friend” project; a series of dog portraits and poetry that can be used to raise funds for Brigadoon and other nonprofits whose mission is to help incarcerated and disabled veterans. It was magic in the project. As I dedicated my artwork to service, the sense of freedom and hope within me swell. To see my art use help others gave it greater power. My artwork healed and strengthened me during its creation and continue to bring hope to others when it was shared and sold.

 

My Hollywood series gave me the opportunity to develop new skills. There is something about our Hollywood icons inspired joyful memories in all of us. More than the memory of the actor, it reminds us of all the challenges and victories their characters endured.

 

My landscapes and wildlife portraits bring the world to me at a time when I cannot go to it. They break through the darkness of this prison cell and remind me of the Wonder and Majesty of the world we share. I escaped through my artwork to those amazing places and times. I meet and share a moment of laughter or peace with the people I paint. And, for a brief moment, I am free.

 

And so my journey through years of captivity has led me to A Touch of Light. Here I found a new home for my hope. As if an answer to prayers, A Touch of Light has given me an opportunity to share my artwork with the world and serve others from the confines of myself. Like the butterfly whose dreams come true when he finds his wings, my art has lifted me out of this dark and lonely place on wings of hope and joy. I am the butterfly's dream...

 

…. I am Rêve de Papillon.

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