Artist Uses Ashes of the Deceased to Paint Portraits of Them

Adam Brown, a Missouri-based painter, is offering his clients a unique way to connect with their deceased loved ones. He mixes the ashes with paint pigments and uses them to create portraits of the dead, as a ‘lasting memory’.

The 32-year-old artist said: “It hit me that having ashes in an urn on a fireplace would be a good way to remember that someone died, but having them in a piece of art is a good way of remembering that someone lived.” For Brown to paint the portraits, his clients need to send him the cremated remains of their loved ones. “Out of respect, I still wear gloves when handling the ashes,” said Brown “And whatever is left over, I am careful to return. I only need about four to six ounces, depending on the canvas. The ashes would go into the background.”

He takes these ashes, which have the texture of sand, and mixes them with paints, craft glues and resins. Brown also incorporates the deceased’s favorite colors and personality into the artwork. He puts a written inscription at the back warning that the painting contains human remains. This is “in case it ever leaves the family and goes into auction, so people know what they’re buying.”


Adam Brown said he got the idea for the paintings from an old TV show. “It was Ripley’s Believe It or Not – they did a story about a woman who did this with abstract art and it stuck in my head,” he said. He was commissioned for his first painting by a friend who lost a loved one.


About five months ago, Brown quit his regular job as an event planner. He is now focusing all his time on this ‘Art from Ashes’ project, at his studio in Grandview, outside Kansas city. He has tie-ups with funeral and retirement homes, and quickly converts ashes into portraits in time for a memorial service. The entire process takes him 48 hours to complete.


Brown said that most people really appreciate the idea and his work, especially those who never considered this an option. “People that have the paintings love them; I’ve never had a bad response. It gives them that constant reminder of something they could look at, smile and say, ‘That person meant a lot to me.’” The paintings could cost anywhere between $300 and $700, depending on size and colors used.

via ABC News

Posted in Art        Tags: , , , ,