Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

Glad to be back after the holiday break. I had to shut down and deal with all the stuff that the season called for. Our home was the family gathering place for Christmas and that meant my time to paint was limited. I found myself distracted and finally made the decision to just shut down until after everyone was gone. Now that I'm back to the canvas full time, the painting is going well and I'm feeling the groove again. When last I wrote, I was trying to have the four main figures completed before Christmas. Yeah, right. That's okay. I finished Joseph McNeill today with the exception of the hair which will have to wait until the background goes in.

Tomorrow I move on to David Richmond and hopefully will have him completed before the day is over. I can't tell you how much of a momentum boost it is to finally be able to look upon a face. After all the planning, research, gallery renovations, paperwork, canvas preparations, sketching and tedious prep work - the fun is starting. Seeing him standing there is like having a friend to talk to while I'm working. I'll have to hurry and complete his friends. As this process develops and I add more images as I complete them, I fell as though it is necessary to give you some background on these extraordinary people. Since Mr. Joseph McNeil is up first, here's a little about him:

Joseph McNeil was one of the original four NC A&T students taking part in the historic Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, NC. (the Greensboro Four). On February 1, 1960, they sat at a segregated lunch counter in the Greensboro, NC, Woolworth's store. This lunch counter only had chairs/stools for whites, while blacks had to stand and eat. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter. The four students were aware that Woolworth’s would not serve blacks at their lunch counter but they sat down anyway, engaging themselves in a plan they had been discussing for a month prior to the sit-in. A Wilmington, NC native, he graduated from Williston Senior High School. Soon after high school, his parents moved the family to New York, where he was able to experience a much more open society. Joe came to North Carolina A & T State University on full scholarship, and found it hard to live in the segregated South. His roommate at Scott Hall on the A & T campus was another sit-in participant, Ezell Blair, Jr. Joe's breaking point came after Christmas vacation, when he returned by bus from New York, and was not served a hot dog at the Greensboro Greyhound terminal.

McNeil earned a degree in engineering physics from NC A & T in 1963. Thirty minutes after graduating, Joe McNeil was commissioned by the U. S. Air Force, and he spent six years as an officer and attained the rank of captain. He recently retired from Air Force Reserves, having achieved the rank of Major General. During his tenure in the Air Force, he started a series of diversity programs, which profoundly changed the culture of that institution. He worked in computer sales for IBM, as a commercial banker for Bankers Trust in New York City, and as a stockbroker for E.F. Hutton in Fayetteville. He now resides in Hempstead, NY. He is married to the former Ina Brown and they have five children.

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