On a languid summer day in 2016, I asked my husband if he could remember how to paint if we set up an easel in the corner of our 12th-story apartment. Dick's Alzheimer's was progressing, noticeably in short-term memory loss, but his response to my question was, "Of course!" We picked up some art supplies and he began to create a series of paintings from the world outside our window.
Dick worked passionately yet peacefully at his easel almost every day. I gazed over his shoulder from time to time, marveling at this latent talent emerging from a man who had not touched a canvas since he was a 21-year-old art student.
Dick's favorite time to paint was just as the sun began to set. But once he started a scene, he would often work well into the night; in eight weeks he had completed a collection of ten scenes. With the exception of "Picasso" Dragon, and the Magritte-like cloud formation he called "Belligerent Trump", the remaining works were exclusively sunsets painted in acrylic.
Dick didn't always include a signature on a finished piece, but I noticed that he frequently wrote "Love, Dad" or "Love, Dick", and sometimes nestled the outline of a tiny heart in the lower right-hand corner. As we viewed his completed work, he agreed that we should have high-resolution copies made of all the originals.
Friends and family were eager to have copies so we decided to make a note card collection, including his full signature on the back of each one. It was Dick's suggestion that we offer the cards for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Alzheimer's research.
On his last day we picked up 1000 notecards from the printer. He was quietly elated at the beauty of his work. To celebrate, we headed to a favorite restaurant where we reminisced about the uniquely fascinating life he had led, a vast range of adventures from tragic to joyous.
Richard Santos was the young poet who abandoned art for war, the globe-trotting patriot who protected all he loved, and finally the man who was renowned for his passion and devotion to wives, family, and friends... and the deepest love of all for his children.
And so the vision that Dick had for his cards has become part of a larger effort with the launching of this website. Artful Warrior is a way to honor the legacy of Dick Santos in stories and photos, but most importantly, to help find a cure for Alzheimer's through the sale of his art.
Thank you for sharing the vision of Richard Santos... patriot, artist, protector of all he loved. He was indeed a man of many talents who embraced this unexpected opportunity to finally enjoy his "Picasso" phase.