By Diane Howard, Ph.D.
Colors of Character: An Artist’s Journey to Redemption tells the amazing, captivating story of prolific artist Steve Skipper. He has broken down walls of racism in the world of fine art with his extraordinary work with his God-given talent and no formal training! Skipper is an untrained artist who has received unprecedented recognition in the world of sports and civil rights art. Once a drug-addicted gang member in Birmingham, Steve went to church on a dare and was transformed. He committed to listening to God and walking through the doors that God opens for him. This journey has him creating art for some of the biggest names in politics, sports, civil rights, and more.
God radically saved Skipper when he was a member of a notorious Birmingham, Alabama street gang, and immediately his life was transformed. Focused on his new-found faith and his talent for painting, Skipper faithfully seized opportunities that only God could have provided. He quickly began gaining notoriety in the sports world for his meticulous artistic style of super-realism.
Now, Skipper is continuing his journey, painting the stories of the pioneers of the Civil Rights movement, including celebrating the pilgrimage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Bimini, Bahamas, where he wrote his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech. Colors of Character provides interviews with key figures in Steve’s life, including sports figures, faith leaders, and civil rights icons; details on his paintings and techniques; as well as his powerful personal story of redemption.
Colors of Character is part of an amazing new distribution paradigm that has recently been bringing top faith content movies to churches. While Hollywood movies studios and theaters have been struggling and failing, an incredible development has been the production and distribution of some of the best faith content movies through Fathom Events in collaboration with Faith Content Network, which is an association of churches around the country to which any church can apply.
In this arrangement Fathom Events provides first-run, top quality faith, family movies for churches to show. Fathom Events and Faith Content Network announced the launch of FAN (Faith Affinity Network). FAN will support a network of churches to distribute first-run, first-rate faith, family movies across the country. It is free for churches to host a FAN event once they are approved. Programming are ticketed events and eligible churches can share in the box office receipts. It is a win-win for all involved. It is amazing that as Hollywood studios struggle and fail that the best in faith content movies is now being distributed and shown through churches. Faith Content Network movies are some of the most substantive and stunning movies today. They are rich in content and artistry.
Here’s my exclusive, inspiring interview with Steve Skipper in which he shares some of the details of his life including how God has guided his art, even his paint strokes:
DH: As you have painted Civil Rights history from the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, what can we learn about keys to success and effectiveness in fostering civil rights for today?
SS: The inclusion of all races, many of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice, has been key!
DH: Tell me the story of the painting of Dr. Martin Luther King preparing his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in the Bahama mangroves?
SS: Dr. King’s life was threatened, especially by J. Edgar Hoover, who wanted the Nobel Peace Prize, himself. Dr. King went to the mangroves in Bahamas to write the speech in safety. Prince Charles, whose royal family owned slaves in the Bahamas, wants a reproduction of my art of Dr. King in the mangroves in the Bahamas.
DH: In your life and work, what are important take-aways from your redemptive journey.
SS: God led me away from a gang. He has used many races, many sacrifices, many standing against their own people in my journey.
DH: What have you learned about what encourages unity?
SS: Unity is created when many different people get together over common causes. A house divided against itself will not stand. We need to accept that we have more in common than differences. We need real communication. Good people always come to together for the common good and thus change the world. The country also needs to stand to do the right thing. At this time, we are only at half time. We need to keep moving forward.
DH: How did you discover Truth?
SS: At 16, I was in a very bad and evil situation. Even as I was with a very bad gang with a 45 at my waist, another young man came up to me with the gang and told me I needed Christ. I told him I would go to church with him, planning only to be there for only a few minutes; but have been with the Lord now for 46 years.
DH: How has God used you to break down barriers?
SS: The Lord led me into fine art. He had built in me persistence and brought others, not all African Americans, to stand with me. The colors in my paintings reflect the colors in the many lives I have met and learned to embrace. We all need to embrace the range of colors of characters our Lord brings into our lives.
DH: How have you seen personally how God is the creator and guide of creativity?
SS: I have had no formal training. God has taught me everything. God is the ultimate artist. For example, everyday each sunrise and sunset is unique with gorgeous art. Each person reflects His image in unique ways. As my great artist teacher, He has led me to produce unique art. Each of us has a piece of His image. He leads me and can lead each of us.
DH: What kind of a legacy do you want to leave with your life and work?
SS: I want to encourage each person to use the unique gifts God gives them. I want to leave a legacy for my family as a Man of God that transcends my art.
Steve Skipper is one of the most prolific artists in the realms of sports, civil-rights, equestrian, portraiture, and Christian artwork. Skipper has shattered barriers of race and education in the art world. He is the first African American to complete artwork sanctioned by NASCAR, the University of Alabama, PGS, and PBR. He also has work hanging on permanent display in some of the most hallowed halls in America, including: the Pro Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and International Sports Halls of Fame; the Paul W. Bryant Museum; the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum; and has been honored with unveilings at Chelsea Piers in NYC, the MGM Grand and Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, and Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.
With no formal training, Skipper openly gives credit to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for his gifts and for every opportunity that he has been given. An ex-gang member and drug addict, Skipper was transformed into an internationally respected fine artist.
Specializing in oils, pastels, acrylics, and pencil, his style of super-realism requires thousands of easel hours per painting. Over the years, he has also mastered the science of Lithography as well as the French method of Giclee Reproduction. Steve continues to accept the challenges placed before him and reach for every goal that God puts in his path, including his current pursuit of historical commissions showcasing the faces of the fearless leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.
This wonderful compelling movie that is a blessing for a Time Such as This is provided by Fathom Events that is due to first show it in theaters November 11 and 12 at prime-time screenings and November 14 and 15 during matinee showings.
Then the Faith Content Network, which works with Fathom Events, to distribute their Faith Content Movies is to provide this fine movie to approved churches to show with no licenses or up-front costs. While Hollywood studios and theaters are failing, some of the best Faith Content movies are now available to approved churches. This is a win-win for all involved to see and share some the best movies today with significant, timely substance, true events, outstanding cinematography and more. These first-run movies are usually first available in theaters as Fathom Events, then distributed through churches, then available on streaming sites.
Our Lord is raising up an Army to correct, turn back, redeem the current critical evils of our time. Please join this Army on the frontlines! There has never been an easier way to show the most powerful, frontline movies in churches (no licenses, no upfront costs…).
Diane Howard, Ph.D. is a diologue, dialect and voice-over coach, as well as a journalist who writes about the role of faith in movies and in the entertainment field. Her website is dianehoward.com.