The Words We Speak

I was in my gallery last Friday and heard a couple of complaints about the painting “The Forgotten Man.”  One woman said, “I like all your paintings in the gallery except one…it is just too sad.  He’s the president of the United States!  He shouldn’t be painted like that!”

My response was, “Yes, I agree.  It is very sad.  It is VERY SAD. But we should not be quiet about these kind of things.  I knew when I painted this picture that people would react differently.  I hope people will wake up to the situation we are now facing.”

Click on Image to view full painting.

A black man came in and was angry how President Obama was portrayed in the painting. “You are obviously racist.  You even have a white man on the bench.  All the white presidents and Obama with his back turned to them.  This is very offensive!”  He then walked out.

In my mind, people who call out “racism” are usually the ones who look at the world through the prism of race.   Only about 15% of Americans are black.  If I had put a black man on the bench it would have immediately become a statement of race.  The fact that Obama is black only has meaning to those who wish to make it so. 

The forgotten man on the bench simply represents all Americans of every gender, color and race who may not have the same opportunities in the future because of unconstitutional acts imposed upon us by Obama and previous presidents.  The painting would have been silly had I put every gender and race sitting on that bench. 

The words people speak can be so revealing.  In the last few months since this painting's release I have been accused of everything you can imagine for speaking my mind through this painting.  Based on the positive and negative reactions which I have received, I think the painting has been a success.  If it causes people to think and feel, then it is successful.


  1. Keep the faith. You are doing the commission that God has requested of you. The truth always hurts and will anger many. It is a sad picture because so many in this great country are trampling on the constitution and know and don't care. I firmly believe that God gave us this country so that the Christian beliefs could grow and spread throughout the wourld without religious persecution. We have drifted far, far away from that and I feel that this country is going to fall because we have said that there is no God, God is dead. But, the great thing is that I also believe that Jesus' second coming is very near, even at the door. We are in the very end of times. As Christians, have we been spreading the "Good News" of the Gospel? Maranatha, my friend!

  2. For President Obama to have been elected shows that this nation is not a nation made of racist. Yes there are some out there. Your painting depicts only truth about what and where our country is heading, and this is ALL due to decisions and acts that have come straight from the President, whether he is black or white. President Obama has made his decision to head this country into the worst of worst situations. I also agree that those that throw up racism are the ones that are looking at it through their eyes as racist their selves.

  3. "For President Obama to have been elected shows that this nation is not a nation made of racist."

    I'm pretty sure that's why a lot of people voted for him. Not for his policy stances, but to be a part of history.

    And how quickly people forget President Obama is half-Caucasian.

    If we elect Herman Cain, will they stop calling us racists? Or call themselves racist when they disagree with him?

  4. So interesting! People often see through distorted lenses. Those who have been conditioned to see race, will see that. I for one see a beautiful painting by a talented artist who speaks to my heart. I also see a man who is courageous and willing to use his talent to make a statement, whether or not others agree. Keep up the great work Jon. They criticized the Savior for telling them the truth. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world and for speaking the truth with your paints and brushes!!

  5. Your painting is great and true, thank you for being honest. People are excited to have the first black president, well I'm here to tell you he is just as much white as he is black!

    I have always hated talk of white and black, people need to wake up to the fact we are all black! When God made Adam & Eve they had to be a medium brown in order to create all the shades of brown that we are. The only white people are albinos and I'd say they are the minority in this world!

    My family came from Ireland and they say I'm black Irish because the Spaniards came and raped, pillaged and settled down with the Irish, that is where we get the darker hair etc. However mine is more gray now! ;o)

    I have a 6 year old in kindergarten and he is learning about Martin Luther King right now,they are talking black and white etc. I will be sending some information to his teacher that I pray will be helpful to share the truth of this issue. God made 1 race, The Human Race! Now why doesn't everyone grow up and treat everyone like God wants us too!

    Keep the brush wet! ;o)

  6. Matt 5:11. Don't be discouraged or surprised! God has gifted you greatly and it's so encouraging to see how you use that gift!!

  7. I cannot believe that people can actually look at this painting and not get the message in it. Racisim has nothing to do with it.
    4 years of Liberal congress and 2 years of a far left liberal president,all of who are ignoring the document being trampled, are self evident in this painting. Keep up the great work.
    Beautiful work and very telling of present day America.

  8. It ultimately doesn't matter what criticism you get. People will always criticize through their own filter. The only thing you get to worry about is whether you feel it justifies the message God wanted you to portray; at least I think it does.

  9. John, I just wanted to tell you I thank God for your amazing talent, and am so happy that you use your talent for Him. Your work is indescribable. I love all of your art for different reasons. So many feelings...peace, joy, love, excitement, they are just overwhelming-like the Holy Spirit makes you feel. I really like 'One Nation Under God'. That is a story in itself. But some of my heart-felt fav's are 'Awaiting the Command', 'Peace is Coming', and 'Parting the Veil'. Again, beautiful work! Thank you for sharing it with us. May God bless you and yours always. -Gina

  10. I love this painting. There is nothing more vivid than truth.

  11. Jon,
    Did your father coach football at Mountain View High School in Orem? Austin McNaughton? If he did great, if not, know he was a great man and one of my HEROES growing up.
    I really have enjoyed following your work. The first painting I ever saw of yours was in 2008 while serving in Afghanistan. Someone sent one of your "Peace is Coming" fliers in a care package to me and I have kept it ever since. In fact I am writing this post to you from Iraq this time and that flier is hanging on the door to my room, for me to see everyday as I walk out into this tough, but amazing land of Babylon. I will someday soon (within 5 months) come and meet you in person at your studio and I hope to replace my 8x!0 flyer with a nice front-room size version of the painting. It has so much meaning to me as this is my 3rd time to the Middle East since 9/11 and I think I look forward to the day of peace more than most. I also wear the 101st patch as my combat patch which makes me feel even more a part of your work. I just wanted to share these thoughts with you and thank you for using the talents with which the Lord has blessed you to bless my life.
    God speed,
    See you soon.