Quin Sweetman, a Portland artist, organized a group project to paint portraits of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people and wounded 498 others. When I learned that artists were doing this, I signed up to be a part of it. Mary Anne Funk is documenting the process and filming some of the artists at work. Look for her interview of Quin on Facebook HERE



What was your reaction to the recent mass murder at a Las Vegas music concert?

So often when terrible things happen we are filled with sadness or anger. It’s easy to feel helpless. But feeling bad does nothing to improve things. This group project offered something small that I could do to help in our collective healing.

It was difficult to choose which person to paint, after all, each life is equally precious. But I chose Calla Marie Medig.

I did not know Calla and still know little about her. I chose her because she reminded me of a friend’s daughter. I like that her name is a flower that I grow. She was beautiful. In pictures, her face is often tilted upwards and smiling so I imagine she had a zest for life and was optimistic in nature. I do know that Calla Marie was loved and will be missed.


The photo above was my first introduction to Calla. While straight on and a little blurry, it reminded me of my freshman school photo.


Searching online I found several other images to work with. It was a hard to choose one, but I liked the diagonal aspect of this spicy, sweet image of her.



We tend to separate ourselves by race, religion or geography. Because Calla lived in Canada it is a reminder that we are all connected and everyone is affected when tragedy strikes. While working on the study drawings to prepare for painting a larger portrait I was struck with how inadequate one image is in encapsulating a life. The concept of making nine unique views of Calla, displayed in a square grid, developed to create a more complete picture. Each one offers a different style or technique. Hopefully it captures the feel of her a little.


Beyond commemoration, for me this work will also serve as a teaching tool to illustrate art strategies. Gold foil, gesso texture, marbled collage paper, masking fluid, white pencil & graphite on toned paper, stenciling, crackle glaze, blobs of color, shizen textured paper are some of the materials and techniques I’ve incorporated in this composite painting. Also notice the variety of views and crops.

I’ll be teaching portrait classes at my studio. Look for the details HERE


You can glimpse all the portraits of the victims HERE thanks to artist Jessi Chan.

2 replies
  1. Quin Sweetman
    Quin Sweetman says:

    Rene, your paintings of Calla Marie Medig are so wonderful! You really brought out her spirit and I’m sure those who knew her will be happy to see them. Thank you!

  2. Cynthia Eckersley
    Cynthia Eckersley says:

    They are beautiful and reflect a life that showed many facets of a person who had many more years left to live.


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