Meet Lance Brown of Painted Christ
Art has always been a part of my life. I showed special skills for art at a young age and my mom nurtured my talent, being that she was an amazing artist herself. I went to the Art Institute of Dallas after graduating from Red Oak High School and got a Graphic Design job at Dr. Pepper. For the first two years of my career, I would go to work and then come home and watch TV for about five hours, then go to bed and do it all again the next day. One day I realized, “I’m wasting my talent.” I decided that I needed to do something that would serve as a creative outlet. I went to the hobby store and purchased some paints, brushes and canvases. Colors were always intimidating to me because I am colorblind. Color blindness or “color vision deficiency” (CVD) is the inability to perceive differences between some of the colors that others can distinguish. I especially struggle in differentiating values of blues and purples in addition to reds, greens and browns. It’s always been this way. It’s something that I’ve just learned to live with and fight through. You can imagine how frustrating that can be for an artist.
I’ve never had any formal training when it comes to painting. I just started by trying to recreate other paintings that I liked such as Van Gogh’s Night Café and Starry Night. It didn’t’ take long for me to realize that I could paint anything I wished. Orders started to trickle in from friends, family and colleagues, requesting custom paintings. I basically just told everyone, “Give me a picture and I can paint it.” For the next eight years, I perfected my craft and learned as much as I could about painting.
I bounced around several jobs and I started to tire of the corporate world and became very unhappy at work. I was good at what I did, but it just wasn’t fulfilling and I started to ask God to reveal my purpose. I knew that the way I felt at my job couldn’t possibly be the ultimate plan for my life. I knew that there was something different that I was supposed to do in the field of art, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I continued to pray, journal, and read as much information that I could about finding your purpose.
In 2009, My Wife and kids and I started attending church at Fielder Road Baptist Church of Arlington. The preacher sent out a challenge for anyone to submit their artwork of Jesus during a sermon series entitled “Vintage Jesus.” I decided to paint my first picture of Jesus titled “Prince of Peace.” The process of creating this painting stirred something deep inside me. Afterwards, I wrote this in my journal,” I painted a picture of Jesus last Sunday, and I lost myself in the canvas. I was consumed by the worship of that painting. I believe that this is part of my calling. The subject matter is the reason for enjoying the moment that I experienced.” Looking back, I can see how God was leading me towards my purpose.
After submitting my painting to the church, I was approached by the music director at Fielder Church, who asked me to perform on stage during one of the special worship services. The thought of doing this petrified me. I didn’t want to get in front of a bunch of people and perform on stage. That was way outside of my comfort zone. After some time, I am reluctantly painting on stage for the first time and immediately said, “I want to do that again!” I was extremely nervous at first and almost didn’t back out of it. In the end, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and that is where I found a blessing. Soon after that first performance, I began acting upon what I felt was my calling from God, by developing www.PaintedChrist.com.
In those early days, there wasn’t much interest and I hadn’t yet figured out how to make it work. I was very discouraged but managed to book several gigs for the next few years. In 2010 I did two, in 2011 I did five, in 2012 I did two and by the summer of 2013, I had only done one performance that year. Around this time, we started to experience some hardships. Our house flooded and we were forced to live in a hotel for two months. What made it worse was my job situation. My boss didn’t show any compassion for what was going on. I wasn’t allowed to take time off to meet with insurance adjusters or contractors during business hours. This made it difficult to get things done and I started feeling depressed.
The day before we were supposed to move back into our house, my contractor called me and said, “Lance, I am so sorry, but we accidentally caught your house on fire.” I was shocked. “How could something like this happen?!” The workers were painting some cabinets with a lacquer that happened to be flammable and they didn’t ventilate the room very well. The fumes built up and went through a vent in the wall where our water heater was located. The fumes then ignited due to the flame from the gas pilot light.
This caused us to be in the hotel for another three months. I became so depressed and discouraged that I decided to quit my ministry. I took my website off the internet and told myself, “If I never paint again, I am okay with that.” I basically just shut down. When we finally got back into our house, I was just going through the motions trying to provide for my family. Months later, I received a call from one of the largest churches in Dallas, Watermark Church. They found one of my YouTube videos I had forgotten to delete and asked me to come to perform. They were the first church to ask me to paint my portrait of Jesus upside down. The reaction that it got from the crowd was overwhelming, and the whole experience re-inspired me to continue. I wanted to grow the business and do more. Every time I performed live on stage, I would tell my wife, “I wish I could do this all the time.” But there was nothing consistent about it. Opportunities were few and far between. Providing for my family with art alone was an impossible dream. There’s a reason they call us starving artists. It is extremely difficult to find clientele and high paying projects on a consistent basis.
In 2014, my wife and I were working for the same small company. By October of 2014, we had been there for ten months and I had done six painting performances for the entire year. Not nearly enough to provide for my family. Unexpected circumstances at work led my wife and I to walk out and quit our jobs at the same time without a backup plan, no savings and no prospects for other jobs. It was a scary place to be for a husband with three young children. I didn’t know what to do. I got down on my knees and prayed, “God, I don’t know what you’re doing in my life, but could you please make it clear to me….Quickly!” Not long after that, I experience a miracle. My phone started ringing for Painted Christ. Before I knew it, I was booked solid for the rest of the year with bookings into the next year. It all happened out of the blue and I still can’t explain it. Since that time, we’ve been living by faith. It hasn’t stopped.
It has been a tremendous struggle along the way. In the beginning, I had no idea how to design and perform painting on stage for an audience. I didn’t know what supplies to use or how to execute a live speed painting performance in a matter of minutes. I thought about copying another artist because it was already done and I could simply mimic what he did. I reached out to this artist and asked for permission and he denied my request but gave me some very valuable advice. He said, “When you create something of your very own design, it’s much more rewarding than copying someone else’s work.” I was very disappointed but eventually came up with a painting that has become my signature piece titled “Forgiven.”
Besides the personal misfortunes we experienced, I found it very difficult to make connections and book events on a consistent basis. Through hard work, passion and determination to succeed, it has slowly grown from year to year. However, the spiritual and mental battles that I faced throughout this growing process were debilitating at times. I constantly doubted myself, my talents, and my abilities to run a small business with no experience. I found myself comparing my work to others that were successful and established and became discouraged on a regular basis. Overcoming the feelings was not easy at all.
Painted Christ is live entertainment performance art created on stage right in front of your eyes in a matter of minutes. I often paint pictures upside down and then flip the canvas at the end to reveal the final portrait. I perform for church worship services, conferences, conventions, military services, concerts, youth camps, weddings, parties and a variety of fundraisers for private schools, ministries and non-profit organizations. Aside from performance art, I’m known for my ability to create original custom paintings, which are something that has gotten me a lot of attention.
Giving back is what I am most proud of. The fact that I can use my God-given talent to help and inspire others is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done in my life. Since 2015 my artwork has raised over $500,000, benefitting many great causes. One thing that sets me apart from from peers in my industry is the cost of my services. I purposely price myself lower than the competition so that everyone can afford my services. In some cases I charge 50-75% less than the competition. I want everyone to experience my performance art and don’t want the price to deter from making that happen. My clients are not just a number or dollar sign. I strive to create lasting relationships and provide the best service possible so that we can work together again in the future and create word-of-mouth referrals from happy customers.
Success for me is defined by my ability to continue serving in this capacity. The fact that God has allowed me to do this job is amazing. I get to do what I love every day and serve the Lord while also providing for my family. That’s the sweet spot for me. I want to continue to be used by God to inspire, encourage and provide hope for everyone that needs it.