Colonie artist preserving veterans’ stories through painting
An artist from Colonie is using his art to tell stories the world may otherwise never hear, painting elaborate portraits of veterans.
Don Scott said art and history were his favorite subjects in school. However, served in the military, became a lineman, got married and raised a family. In retirement, the Air Force veteran has found his way back to those two interests by painting other veterans.
“When I decided to retire, I said, I’m going to start painting again, and this is what happened,” Scott said.
When he painted one veteran and posted about his art, a passion project quickly took shape.
“It snowballs pretty quickly,” he said.
Don Scott now has a room full of veteran portraits in his home. Many are in military museums, too. Each one tells an intricate story that might otherwise be lost to history.
“I paint what they look like today, and then something from their past. With each picture, there’s a story behind it,” he said.
Asked what he gets out of it, “Great friendship,” he said. “And I also get the history lesson I think every kid should get. So I’m getting history lessons from the guys who were actually there, actually saw things.”
Scott is himself a veteran, along with his father and brothers. He served in the U.S. and overseas.
“I spent four years in the Air Force, me, I was in from ‘82 to ‘86, it was peacetime,” he said.
Scott found friendship with a World War II veteran, Charlie Levesque, from Colonie who he painted two years ago. Levesque, like each veteran Scott paints, got his own copy that now hangs in his home too.
“Oh, I’m joyful with it. That’s why he’s my buddy. I’d do anything for him,” Levesque said.
Levesque will be 97 years old on Thanksgiving. Levesque served aboard the USS Teton, a communications ship, from 1944 to 1946. On September 2, 1945, the ship broadcast to the world the news that Japan had surrendered.
Levesque had grown up in Colonie when Wolf Road was farmland. He returned home to a very different landscape.
“They grew vegetables and whatnot, when I got back, alls that was sprouting up was houses, it changed completely,” he said.
Levesque got married and raised a family, working as a welder for decades. He’s just one person whose role in history Scott has captured and preserved. It’s a quote about stories like his that keep Scott listening and painting.
“It said, ‘dying for your country isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Being forgotten is,’” he said.
To get in touch with Scott about his work, email firstname.lastname@example.org.