Texas artist paints portrait of Brownfield family's fallen soldi - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Texas artist paints portrait of Brownfield family's fallen soldier

Ken Pridgeon (source: KCBD) Ken Pridgeon (source: KCBD)
Portrait of Steve Morin Jr. by Ken Pridgeon (source: KCBD) Portrait of Steve Morin Jr. by Ken Pridgeon (source: KCBD)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

A Brownfield family has received a very special gift.

Audrey and Steve Morin lost their son, Steve Morin Jr. when he was fighting in the Army National Guard in Iraq in 2005.

Now, they have a real-life portrait of Steve Jr., as a Texas artist presented them with this portrait at Sunday night's Remember Our Heroes dinner here in Lubbock.

At 81 years old, Ken Pridgeon from Baytown, Texas has become well-known for painting beautiful portraits of fallen soldiers.

He actually started out painting billboards many years ago, and never thought he would paint portraits.

But six years later, as a veteran of the Air Force himself, he can't imagine painting anything else.

"People think I'm a hero, but I'm really not. I just like to paint," Pridgeon said.

He has painted more than 300 portraits, capturing real life images of fallen heroes.

"I paint the eyes first," Pridgeon said. "I paint his eye or her eye. Just exactly the way it is. I like to put the story in the background."

Pridgeon studies the history of every soldier he has painted before he even puts the brush to the canvas, to find out exactly what he or she was like.

"You read the epitaph. You get involved. You become part of the family. Ok because you actually kind of re-live it a little bit," he said.

That is just one reason these portraits are so special - portraits like the one Ken made for Audrey and Steve Morin of Brownfield.

"I was very proud to have gotten the portrait. I was very emotional, to have someone to do that for us," Audrey Morin said.

Audrey says her son, Steve Morin Jr., served in the Navy for 14 years right out of high school.

"After 9/11 he decided to go and he joined the Army National Guard," she said.

She says he was deployed to Iraq, and only came home one more time before his death.

"He died on September 28 of 2005."

But now, through this portrait, Steve Morin Jr. is finally home forever.

"I said oh, there's my son. My beautiful son. That was my first thought. I was so happy to get him," she said.

"This is such a great gift to a family. Because they can sit there with an 18 by 24 in their home," Pridgeon said.

Ken says through this emotional journey, the best gift to him is getting to interact with each family.

"I've had thirty minute hugs from men - the fathers of the fallen," he said.

Each portrait becomes a priceless treasure, building a community across many miles, of families dealing with the same tragedy, but finding comfort in these gifts.

"Those are my families. Those are my boys, those are my girls," Pridgeon said.

"I'm very grateful that he took the time to do this for me. And I'm very positive that other families will be just as grateful and know that we appreciate his work," Morin said.

"I'm going to have to find a spot for him. A very special spot to hang him up," she said.

For more information about Ken Pridgeon's work and his gallery in Baytown, you can visit the websites here:

www.servicewithhonor.org

www.portraitofawarrior.org

www.ken-pridgeon.pixels.com

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