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An artist wanted to thank medical workers on the frontlines. So he's painting them

Man paints portraits of frontline workers
New York man paints portraits of frontline workers as tribute 02:15

Albany, New York — When Steve Derrick of Clifton Park, New York, paints a portrait, there's no such thing as a touch-up.  He includes every bruise, bag and blood vessel.

It might not seem like he's capturing them at their best moment, but Steve said he thinks he is. "That's when they're strongest – not when everything is rainbows and butterflies behind them," Steve said. 

Indeed, the only thing his subjects have behind them is a 12-hour hospital shift.  In the paintings, you see the marks from their masks, the fight in their eyes and the admiration the artist has for all of them.

Courtesy of Steve Derrick

When this pandemic began, Steve said he wanted to do something as a thank you to those on the front lines, so the amateur artist spent hours in his basement painting tributes.

So far he's done about 100 portraits – many of nurses here at Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York. And although Steve refuses payment of any kind, he says he's gotten very rich in another way.

 "Right here," he said, pointing to his heart. "That's the payment. That's the reason I do it. I ..." he broke off emotionally. 

Steve said he has been overwhelmed by the impact his paintings have had on his subjects, like Albany Med ER nurse Michele Hanna.

"You know it doesn't make me look glamorous by any stretch of the imagination but it makes me look like who and what I am and what I was doing," Michele said. 

Courtesy of Steve Derrick

Michele recently stopped by to meet Steve and check out an exhibit of his work at the Albany Center Gallery.

"These are amazing," Michele said. "It's the most beautiful thing anyone has ever done for me."

When this show is over, Steve will be giving away every portrait to the person in it.  A forever mirror, reflecting that time in their lives when they were at their most beautiful.

Take a virtual tour of Steve's gallery exhibit here. More information about the artist's inspiration and his contact information is available here.

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