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"There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."   Pablo Picasso
Brians Blue Curl's Trip Mom Mabel's Ash Kristin
"The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself and carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion. It is the current which he puts forth which sweeps you along in his passion."    Pierre-August Renoir
Tribute Art: A Celebration of Life

An abstract artist, Denice Lewis’ inspiration for celebrating life through “Tribute” painting began when she visited Bali, Indonesia, which she believed was one of the most spiritual places on earth. Observing that the people of Bali have a tremendous respect for Spirit, she also noticed that everyone had a smile on their face, joy in their hearts and they really knew how to celebrate life. So much so, that their funerals are events, where friends, family and even strangers celebrate the life of the deceased with a marvelous festive send off. This ceremony resonated deeply with Denice, and fast forwarding to the present, serve as the inspiration for her "Tribute" series of commemorative paintings.

The catalyst for expanding her artistic ability through Tribute art came from the passing of a friends’ Mother’s life. Lewis' abstract paintings caught the attention of her best friend, who came to her with a unique proposal. He wanted her to create a painting that celebrated his mother's life using her cremated remains. This became the genesis of Denice's ongoing "Tribute" series of paintings, a concept which she originated, and embraced with her creation of "Mom," a tribute painting for her own mother.

The ashes are painted into an abstract expression of a loved one’s life. The paintings serve as a lasting memorial to celebrate departed loved ones, whether a family member, friend, or even family pet. Innovative, therapeutic and captivating – Denice Lewis’ Tribute paintings not only excite the eyes, but capture the soul.

As one magazine article says, “Look once, and you’ll miss it.  Look twice, and it’s just another painting. But if you hold your gaze, you’ll discover something else entirely. This is more than just acrylic colors …this is a celebration of a life well lived.” 

Those who have experienced a Denice Lewis tribute painting each continue to experience a tremendous appreciation for the work as the paintings have helped them through the healing process after their loved one has passed on.

The History of Tribute Art or Remembrance Art

History tells us that the concept of remembrance and using personal remains for lasting tribute or memorial art is nothing new. Hair was popular as a symbol of life because it did not decompose after death. Tombs in Egypt exhibit paintings portraying pharaohs and queens exchanging hair as tokens of everlasting love, while Indian women in Mexico kept locks of hair in a jar to be buried with them so their soul would not tire from looking for missing parts and thus delay their passage to the other world.

Masterful hair art reached its peak in the late 1800’s in Victorian England where mourners often wore jewelry made by taking a lock of hair to weave into knot designs for use in broaches, rings, bracelets, earrings, watch fobs and necklaces.

During the Civil War in America soldiers would leave a lock of their hair with their families prior to leaving for battle, and upon death, the hair often was made into mourning jewelry or placed in a locket.

Today, the Yanaomami Indians of the Venezuelan and Brazil border region suspend their dead in trees until the bones are picked clean. The bones are then charred, or cremated, and ground into a fine powder. The ashes are then spread onto sacred areas or made into a drink with chica, a fermented beer made from bananas, and ingested by relatives of the deceased to confer immortality on them.

Commissioning Tribute Art

“Tribute” paintings can begin in a variety of ways and it’s up to the surviving family as to how to proceed. While some only present a photo, others may desire Denice to experience the essence, style, or life force of the person’s home, favorite place, books, art, etc. The family may or may not present a pinch of cremated ashes or snippets of hair. Phone consultations follow, and in the best case scenario, Denice will actually travel to the family’s hometown to talk in person and soak up the ambiance and spirit of her subject matter.  In some cases, Denice has been asked to create work that will allow future family members to become a part of the lasting memorial.

The ashes, or hair, are painted into an abstract expression of a loved one’s life. The paintings serve as a lasting memorial to celebrate departed loved ones, whether a family member, friend, or even family pet. Innovative, therapeutic and captivating – Denice Lewis’ Tribute paintings not only excite the eyes, but capture the soul.

Because each commemorative commission is based on individual requests and needs, time and expenses vary from project to project. Estimation completion and cost of her tribute paintings vary depending on size, materials and time required. For further information email Denice at denice@denicelewisfineart.com


“Thank you very much for the painting you have made in memory of my Dad…Hopefully, time will slightly mend the big rift in our hearts and I believe that this painting will give us relief and satisfaction with his spirit.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You obviously listened and my God you heard me…I can't say anything else at this moment as I am quite honored, surprised, shocked and am in disbelief as to how this all ended up after a sweet lunch at Buzzes. You, Denice, have put Papa in the best place...he will now be with us forever and ever…Curl would have loved this painting...and probably sees himself right there.”
– Ingrid

"My mom died just after Denice had started painting again.  I had asked Mabel (my mom) what she wanted me to do with her ashes: scatter them at sea; take them back to Hawaii where my dad's ashes were scattered; or some other disposition?  Her reply was typical, "I don't care, I'll be dead." Well, I'm not the type who goes in for an urn of ashes on the mantle and was still trying to come to terms with my mother's death when inspiration hit--take some of her ashes and mix them with acrylics and have Denice paint some sort of tribute to her using the ash laden paint.
Now you have to understand that Denice paints by intuition--it's all about feel and seizing the moment and opening herself up to divine and cosmic forces.  This may sound hocus pocus but I've seen far too many incidents of her 'connecting' to ever doubt the validity of her methods.  So Denice is working on the painting (it's been several days now and nothing has felt right, numerous false starts and new starts and still the painting isn't right) and I start to tell her a story about my mom and dad and suddenly in the space of the story, some three or four minutes, the painting has taken on a life of its own and is finished.  It's called Mabel's Ash, and if you look it's pretty clear that my mom and dad are dancing together in it and I know Mabel would love it.

She'd also be proud to have served as the inspiration responsible for all the other tribute paintings Denice has done, and will do in the future.  I love you mom, I love you Denice".
Copyright 2007-2010 Denice Lewis.  All Rights Reserved.