Last night, a dear friend and extraordinary man Gordon Wetmore passed away after a brief illness. A prolific and talented artist, he also founded the Portrait Society of America. Gordon was a man of imposing physical stature with a gentle, kind spirit.
For over 40 years he has successfully painted hundreds of portraits for families, business and institutions. He also illustrated several books, and his paintings from his travels represented a diary of Gordon’s love of the world around him.
His creation of the PSA will also be a large part of his legacy and will continue to impact many lives as well. It has grown to over 3,000 members strong. It’s annual portrait competition is one of the most recognized in the world and important in advancing the field of fine art figure and portraiture. He had a strong belief that together we had the power to grow as artists by sharing with each other. “A rising tide lifts all boats” he often said to me.
I have known Gordon for most of my career. I will miss his phone calls, his visits, and hearing his latest ideas for how to grow and strengthen appreciation for fine art. His encouragement and belief in me as an artist has meant so much. Winning the 2001 Grand Prize at the Portrait Society competition literally changed my career in more ways than I can begin to count. For these things and more I will forever be grateful.
A few years ago, I received an envelope from Gordon with a small printed quote inside. He said one of his daughters had shared a similar one with him. I taped it next to my computer and treasure it to this day. It reads:
“The Lord…has filled him with the spirit of God…and knowledge to design artistic works…and he has put in his heart the ability to teach.” Exodus 35:30-34
Certainly a beautiful description of Gordon. He loved art, people, his family, but most importantly he loved the Lord. He was a devoted Christian who lived his life in a way that always pointed directly to his faith and his heavenly Father. I’ll miss my friend… a fine artist, but even more importantly, a fine human being.