POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — President Barack Obama only has four days left in office, but before he leaves, one recent high school graduate in Powhatan County has something very special he hopes to deliver to the outgoing president.
He hopes to deliver a hand-painted portrait of the president and first lady.
“Hard work, it’s not about how fast you can get it done,” said Tre Taliaferro, the young artist who painted the artwork.
It all started as a blank canvas: White material stretched across a wooden frame.
“I tried to get as much detail as I could in the painting,” Taliaferro said.
Little by little, with every stroke of Taliaferro’s steady and skilled hand, an image started to form.
“His little mole by his nose, I didn’t think it would look right without that,” Taliaferro said as he described the detail he included in the painting. “His hair, obviously, I had to get the gray in there.”
“I really just respect everything they do, I like what they stand for, and I just really want them to have it.”
The recent Powhatan County High School graduate made what can only be described as a masterpiece.
“All together for the Obama painting, it took me about eight to 10 hours,” the young artist explained.
And if one wasn’t enough, Taliaferro also painted First Lady Michelle Obama.
“Since her teeth are showing, if I didn’t get those right, I don’t even think she would like it because her teeth could be too small, too big, too yellow,” Taliaferro said.
But why did he decide to do the paintings in the first place?
“When I first did it, I didn’t really have plans for it, I really just wanted to paint them,” Taliaferro explained.
Once they were finished and posted online, the works of art went viral. Thousands of people shared the photos, and many wanted to buy a replica. Taliaferro stood to make a small fortune, but that’s not what he’s interested in.
“Somebody said that it would be a good idea to try and present these to [Obama], and I thought that was a pretty good idea,” said Taliaferro.
He now dreams of holding what he created with his own hands and presenting it to someone he considers a hero.
“I just hope that he gets them, I hope that I am able to hand them to him,” Taliaferro said. “I want to be the person to see his face when he gets them.”
“He’s almost like, for lack of a better word, a father figure.”
Taliaferro says that to him, President Obama is more than a role model.
“He’s almost like, for lack of a better word, a father figure,” said Taliaferro.
So with just four days left until President Obama and the first lady leave the White House, maybe — just maybe — there may be one last gift on behalf of a grateful nation.
“I really just respect everything they do, I like what they stand for, and I just really want them to have it,” Taliaferro said.
Taliaferro says he doesn’t consider himself to be a very political person. He was too young to vote for Obama in either 2008 or 2012, but says he has always looked up to him.