King James

Story

King James

2016

Oil on Canvas

24″ x 30″

 

James Earl Mayfield, also known as Big James, The Gentle Giant, and my favorite King James was a friend of mine and a treasured member of the homeless community in Fullerton, California. At 6’6” with a shoe size of 18 triple E his huge stature matched his giant heart. He had such a warm, welcoming, yet powerful presence about him. I knew when I met him that I would paint him—I had to. My imaginative artist’s mind saw him as an African king in another life or as a saint with a “God-like” glow. In the portrait I painted of him, I added a large golden sun behind him that emulated a halo—perfect for his saint-like personality. His clothes were colored and painted to hang off him like a robe worn by religious figures, and yet still humble and approachable with the string tucked into his shirt. It was easy to paint James, his honest and humble personality radiated with kindness and truth.

 

James was extremely excited to have been the model of my painting, and even more so when it made the cover of Artvoices Magazine. When I gave him a copy of the magazine he smiled from ear-to-ear and in his full deep voice he said he felt like a celebrity. James was getting close to moving into his own apartment when he unfortunately passed away. Unbeknown to me, I later discovered that he was terminally ill, but never told any of his friends. I still keep in contact with some of his family members as well as others from the Fullerton homeless community. I didn’t know when I painted James as a holy figure how soon he would become one as he passed into the next realm, but through this painting I know that James will continue to live on and bless the world with his loving legacy and presence.