from a dad's view

Who took my home – Homeless

As I lay on this cold wooden park bench, with very little to my name, and everything that I do own is in this single tattered plastic trash bag to keep it dry from the weather.  People passing by in their cars, staring, talking, and wondering how someone could get to this place in life.  I move from shelter to shelter during these cold winter nights, just hoping to find warmth for just a few hours or possibly all night, but that warmth doesn’t always come, and some nights are spent cuddled as close as possible to anything that will keep the winter winds off my broken and unhealthy body.  Did I get here because of a war that I so bravely fought in, only to come home to no job, no family and what seems to be no way out. Maybe it was in high school when I was making good grades, athletic, but because it was popular, at a party decided to try weed for the first time, and that was the beginning of tearing down my pride and I moved to other drugs to make me forget what I had.  Did I begin this journey at birth, with a mental disability, with nowhere to go after my parents passed away, and no one else wanting the responsibility.  Or is it that I never took responsibility for myself from the very beginning, never wanting to work, and just wanting to get drunk or high every minute of the day. And is that because I had no confidence, or that I just never found something that I loved more than getting high.  Maybe it was simply that everything fell apart at one time, lost my job, my family left me because I couldn’t give them what they wanted, and all the loans and credit cards, completely drained me of every dime I had.  I’m not sure anymore how I got to be on this park bench, it’s all a blur and becoming even more of a blur as my life candle begins to burns near bottom.  Do I wish things would have been different, could I have accomplished more in my life, if I had found something that I love more than getting drunk or high, could I put the drugs down and live for those I love.  All I know is that this wooden park bench is cold, and the cold creeps to my bones, and the only warmth I get is found in this bottle that is my life.

I always wonder about things. When metal detecting and I unearth an old toy, or coins placed in a rotted bag, or a piece of civil war relic, I always wonder of its history, who and how it got there.  And like this weekend with my daughter going through old abandoned homes out in the middle of the woods or fields, I wonder, who lived there, what kind of family were they, and the history of the happenings there in the last 120 years.  This is the way my brain thinks, I don’t know why, but everything has a history and I love to explore those histories.  I do the same with homeless people that I pass, I feel sorrow, aggravation, and wonder of what they have gone through to get to the place that they are.  Like I said, everything has a history, but at one point, everything has no future on this earth. That’s why I hope that everyone will do what they can to make each today, tomorrows best history.

The 8″x 8″ watercolor was finished this weekend from a photo found on the net, because of a homeless man that I passed by, and made me wonder what his story was.

22 responses

  1. What a great painting, Ryan! It is so rich with texture and life!! I read the post before I studied the painting, and it made every paint stroke even richer. The paintings we do when we’re deep in thought about the subject always seem a little richer for it. Great post!!!

    January 31, 2011 at 8:50 am

    • Thank you Beth,
      I’m always saddened by seeing homeless, hoping someday they can find the love and strength they need to lift theirself up, and make a better life. We as society can lift one and help, but we cannot be expected to carry them, that’s up to the individual to carry on, and not be crutched by another. Thanks!

      January 31, 2011 at 9:29 am

  2. Wow! A powerful image! I am blown away!

    I am always struggling with a dark background in my portraits. Perhaps you can give me a hand with that. How do you achieve such rich and dark black in your painting?

    January 31, 2011 at 9:49 am

    • Thank you Alex!
      I’m not sure what I do different, but I have had that comment before. The black that I’m using right now is a very cheap reeves paint that I purchased for testing for students a year ago, and I’m just trying to use it up, so I know it’s not the paint quality. But what I do is mix the black and either a blue or a brown color for the first layer, mixing a 70% black and 30% blue or brown. I put this on as dark as possible and then allow that to completely dry. After that dries, I then come back with a very soft brush and a very soft touch, and apply the black only layer. That’s it, not sure if it helps, but that’s all I do. Thanks again!

      January 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

      • This is very helpful, Ryan! Thank you! A couple more questions… What is the concentration of your black mix and black paint? How thick is it? And do you apply it on wet or dry paper?

        January 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      • The mix goes on wet paper only in areas to be black, this gives me a little smoother blend and the paint is fairly thick but because it’s on wet paper it fades quickly. The second layer is on dry paper, but the paint is fairly thick but workable. The only trouble that I have had, is with the second layer if over worked or the brush to hard, it will remove portions of the first layer. As we would say here in Indiana “I bet that was clear as mud”…. sorry, if didn’t explain it well!

        January 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      • No, you’ve explained very well. I got it. Now I am going to go and try to do it :). Thanks, Ryan, you’re great!

        January 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm

  3. An excellent story and an excellent rendering of the “homeless man”. I can relate to how you feel when you see these folks, I have the same thoughts as I see them on the streets. Though I do not see many here in W. Virginia, I have seen and even spoke to more than I can remember when I lived in Phoenix for 30 years. At one point in my life my car had broke down in the worst way and I was unable to come up with the money to repair it, nor replace it, so I was walking to most destination if not, then the bus when I could. Through this time in my life, for the walking in Phoenix I was approached by many homeless people begging for change. No, I did not give them change, but would offer them food at the nearby store, just a little something, but never gave them money. Trust me, it’s not a good idea. Many of them will take that change to put toward their next bottle that they now live in, as most, but not all do. Give food, not money. Aside from that there is still the wondering of how they got this way as you have so very well put it in your story. I could not have described it better even with the experiences I have encountered with them.
    Your painting is fantastic, as so your touching story.

    January 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    • We have very few here in Evansville, Indiana, or at least few that live in the publics eye. So when you do see a homeless person here, it still brings on several emotions and thoughts. I think other places become numb to the situation because of the everyday, every street, homelessness. Thanks for your kind hearted comment.

      January 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

  4. Excellent portrait, Ryan and nice written post to go with. Here is a photographer wondering similar things about an old house:
    Just thought you might want to check it out. I gave Taylor the link a while ago.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  5. aswirly

    A very touching and pensive post… And the painting…what can I say? Wow. The somber colors, the sadness in his face. sigh…Amazing, and so sad

    February 1, 2011 at 8:25 am

  6. Your homeless man looks down on his luck but also like he has a story behind his misfortune. Perhaps just unlucky and lonely? Wonderful, complex, finely painted work. The painting and your writing touch the heart and the mind.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    • That makes me so happy Linda, thank you!
      I strive to convey stories or emotions with my art and writings, but I know my writing skills are not the best, actually poor. I just wish that I could write my thoughts properly. Although sometimes not all agree with me, my writings are from my heart, so I hope in some way they do touch others. Thank you again!

      February 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

  7. Beautiful work, and beautiful sentiments. The homeless have always had a big place in my heart. I too, wonder about their stories. Their faces say so very much.

    February 2, 2011 at 8:06 am

    • Thank you g2g, and welcome to my blog. Seeing the homeless man on the bench when the weather here is way below freezing, just makes me sad. It’s sad that some allow their self to get to that point in life, and otherse are forced too. Thanks again!

      February 3, 2011 at 1:42 pm

  8. The expression of his face makes us understand many things.
    Thank you for sharing with us this beautiful watercolor.

    Have fun! 🙂

    February 3, 2011 at 8:05 am

    • His face captured the lost, sad, and unsure look, that I was hoping to portray. Thank you Alina

      February 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

  9. The texture in his face and beard are amazing. A touching post and painting.

    February 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

  10. napabelle

    When I first looked at your painting, I saw an old rugged fisherman !! This is a fabulous painting. You are truly amazing. Such expression, such definition of the lines. Not easy to do wrinkles ! I also LOVE the colors !

    February 7, 2011 at 8:07 am

  11. Francis

    a Touching story and a stunning painting. Make me wonder about how our life would turn unexpectedly. I believe this gentleman would never have thought he ends up on the street but life something is so unexpected. Live to every minute. Thanks Ryan.

    February 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    • I think your right Francis,
      And I hope we never fall into such misfortune. Thanks again!

      February 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm

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