Charles Dennis “Denny” Cresap | AftonI had the distinct privilege and honor to be chosen to paint the portrait of Mr. Denny Cresap for his induction into this year's Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Being selected as an inductee into the Hall of fame is the Oklahoma's Highest honor.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Charles Dennis “Denny” Cresap became an Oklahoman in 1952. He attended the University of Oklahoma and served in the U.S. Army before marrying Diana “Gail” Campbell. In 1968 the couple purchased a small Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Bartlesville—Northeast Distributing Company—and son John joined the family business twenty years later. The family next purchased the Budweiser distributorship in Oklahoma City, Premium Beers of Oklahoma, and grew it into one of the top 15 Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the United States. After selling Premium Beers to Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri, the family established the Cresap Family Foundation. Through the foundation, the Cresap’s now dedicate their time and resources to improving the quality of life for their fellow Oklahomans. The Foundation’s areas of emphasis are youth and families, health and wellness, education, arts and humanities, and animal welfare. Today, Cresap and his wife Gail make their home in Afton.
The Cresap Family Foundation was established in 2012 upon the final sale of the family’s business, Premium Beers of Oklahoma, one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the United States.
The family’s spirit of giving dates as far back as 1968 when a self-made auto dealer purchased a little Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Bartlesville, OK. They continue this spirit of charity today through the Cresap Family Foundation.
The Directors of the Cresap Foundation look at the needs in the communities in which they fund with a focus on helping those most in need. This is evidenced by their generous giving year by year.
Starts by getting to know your subject. I was very fortunate to receive a beautifully written and produced biography about Denny and his history. It was filled with stories and photographs of his life made me even more eager to represent the man that is referred to as, "Every body's Friend". So when the time came to meet with Mr. Cresap at his beautiful Lake home in Afton, Oklahoma that looks over Grand Lake of the Cherokees I already had some insight into his personality. Denny's beautifully charming wife hosted me for an intimate dinner with their son John the night before the sitting so that we all might get to know each other. The next morning I took a number of photographs of Mr. Cresap from many different angles and also collected a few photographs of a younger Mr. Cresap. These kind of photographs are invaluable for the artist. It allows me to better analyze the structure of the models features and those unique aspects such as posture, smile, etc. In a portrait, I am not only trying to capture a likeness, but to capture and record personality, manner and that those with whom they are close, will instantly recognize. I also look for elements of the sitter's surroundings that reflect the interests and accomplishments of their life. A successful portrait is a biography in paint. A novel of the client's life that will live well beyond the mortal and touch on the immortal. Details in the painting are visual reminders of the infinite features of a lifetime. Sometimes in the process, you recognize a detail that needs adjustment. Note the head of the dog standing next to Denny below. I wanted to portray the devotion of the Cresap's beloved pet so I scraped out the original underpainting and repainted in the more adoring face of their Bernese Mountain dog. Also take note of the surrounding collectibles, hand gestures, and elegant yet casual manner of this business man with the friendly smile. The details are important even to the selection of the frame. Here you see a few of the frame ideas.
This is a commission for the Oklahoma State Capitol that I have been working on for the past 5 months while teaching full time. In the image below I'm preparing the canvas, with the preliminary 2'x3' painting on the canvas. For a painting this complex I spent quite a bit of time sketching out the many elements while working out the finished composition.
I have been painting my children's portrait since they have been born as a documentary of their childhoods. Now I continue that tradition with my grandchildren. This is a portrait of my granddaughter Eilee. Here we see little Eilee picking out the one that she will take home with her. Below are some images of the painting in progress. This is "pure pleasure". I just start painting with no preparation "All Prima". I lay in the composition with a thin transparent Imprimatura and then build up the values and color on Eilee. I work from the focal point outward. Afterwards I think needs Eilee needs a little help so I quickly lay in a scarecrow. Pure bliss!
I had the distinct honor of being commissioned to paint the family portrait for the Love Country Stores Headquarters. Below are some of the process pictures of the painting.
And there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the smile of a happy customer.
My portrait for James C. Day was dedicated for his induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on November 21, 2019. Mr. Day is a retired oilman who has served, or is currently serving, on a number of public company's board of directors, including EOG Resources, Inc., Noble Energy, Inc., Tidewater, Inc., Global Industries, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and is a member of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy Board of Visitors at the University of Oklahoma. He is an honorary board member of the American Petroleum Institute, where he previously served on the Policy Committee and as chairman of the General Membership Committee.
In 2007, Day established the James C. and Teresa K. Day Foundation with a focus on education. Through the foundation and personally, he has been a strong supporter of many Oklahoma endeavors and entities, including the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, Charles B. Goddard Center for Visual and Performing Arts, Inc., Arcadia Trails, Pond Creek-Hunter High School, and the University of Oklahoma. Day also served as co-chair for the 125th Live On University Campaign for the University of Oklahoma.
Below are some images of the painting in progress. I first create a charcoal study to better inform myself of the structure and personality of Mr. Day. I then create a small color study of the composition, which you see in the last image, as a guide for the final painting.
I am so excited to bring the long awaited fruits of my labor of love to Oklahoma History Center for an exhibition for an extended run to June 2019. I will be hosting an "Artist Talk and Reception" Thursday March 21, 2019 starting at 5:30-7:30. The exhibition consists of the paintings and drawings started at my residency at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel 2 years ago. The paintings represent my admiration of that unique passion that sparks each of us to "Work".
Wow, what an honor, my painting, "Will Work for a Better Future for My Family" part of my series, "Will Work For", was judged to be included in Artist's Magazine worldwide competition and highlighted in the January issue of Southwest Art. Please go out and find a copy :-)
Im very proud of this series and am so happy that the series is finding outlets for expression. Ive recently moved to Savannah, to teach at SCAD Savannah College of Art and Design and have started working on new images from the area.
I was asked to help and be a part of this incredible project to celebrate the win of OU's newest Heisman recipient, Baker Mayfield, for Sooner Sports. It happened quickly. I received a call and asked if I could paint a portrait, while cameras recorded the process, so that it could be mixed with action footage of Mayfield's incredible season. I was excited, and felt it would be a challenge. I arrived at Headington Hall, on the top floor of the OU campus and started setting up my easel and canvas as the cameramen started setting up their equipment. The at around 10;45, I started the process and painted nonstop for about 2 hours until I placed my signature mark in the lower right corner. Not bad for a few hours work.
Click on the image for video.
The "Will Work For" projects is starting to get some legs and some attention. This was a nice article that appeared in the January 22, 2017 Sunday Oklahoman.
Mike Wimmer is a portrait artist Living, Teaching and Painting in Savannah, Georgia
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