Stoke by stroke, the artist layers rich colors of paint on a massive wall. Alternating between sitting, standing and climbing a ladder, he works for hours at a time on a mural of Jesus flanked by his followers.
Sophomore graphic design major Edgar Ortiz embarked on a daunting creative mission after being chosen by Hershall Seals, chairperson of the art department at the university.
“Dr. Chuck Taylor … former UMHB faculty member and volunteer for Christians Touching Lives for Christ called me … to consider re-designing the old mural,” Seals said.
Taylor presented a challenge: Creating a life-like depiction of Christ on the wall of CTLFC, a local food and clothing bank located in Temple.
The organization wanted a visual representation of their group’s mission and decided to commission a talented, local artist. They then decided an image of Jesus helping others would effectively convey their own purpose, as well allude to the faith behind their cause.
Seals said, “Edgar Ortiz made his talents known his freshman year, so his talent and proven work ethic made him an ideal artist for the mural.”
After being selected by administration, Ortiz followed the requirements set before him, choosing an existing work to model his own after, and taking the wisdom of Seals to heart.
“We collaborated on a design … and worked together one evening to draw it on the wall, and Edgar took it from there,” Seals said.
By adding more dimensions, changing the background and elongating the piece to fit his work space, Ortiz made the painting his own. And though he didn’t choose the subject matter himself, he effectively expressed his own taste through the work.
“I did have freedom in what style I wanted to paint it. I’ve always liked to be as accurate and realistic as I can, but have also liked to use lots of color, with dark shades,” Ortiz said. “Although I painted another painting, I still had lots of fun in challenging myself to make my own version of an already-excellent painting. I learned a lot by looking at the colors in the original work and how they were used.”
Ortiz began the project this summer and continued to work throughout the semester when he wasn’t attending class or working.
After a total of 15 days consisting of three to eight hours each, the Bible story came to life.
The 80 hours of work paid off, and Ortiz expressed his happiness with the product.
“The most difficult part of the painting was getting the right colors for the faces and hands, but the pleasure I got from seeing a well-done face or hand in the end was all worth it,” he said.
Though his family has not seen the finished painting personally, they communicated their approval and backing throughout the process.
Ortiz said, “Honestly, everyone that has seen the painting has been very supportive, however, my family, Chuck Taylor and my girlfriend were the most supportive. I would show them a picture each day … and they would give comments.”
Seals expressed his support for the student as well, recognizing the amount of time and energy such a large project requires.
“Edgar’s finished product is remarkable and confirms his ability to take a challenge and confidently move forward,” he said.
Ortiz also shared his work on Facebook, receiving positive feedback which reiterated his desire to pursue a career in graphic design. In addition, he wants to paint as many side projects as possible in the future. He hopes to eventually work as both a painter and a designer.
“I would like to thank everyone that supported me. Special thanks to Hershall for giving me the opportunity,” Ortiz said. “None of my artwork has gotten this much exposure, and I’m thankful to God for all he has given me.”