This Artist Took a Risk That Saved His Life

Photography by John O’Hagan

From there he says the art just poured out of him. He started painting Japanese monks and birds and flowers, so inspired by his experience. The next morning he awoke to find that same hawk making noise outside his window. He went outside and followed it down to the path. For the next 30 days, the hawk returned to Trés and led him up the mountain.

His paintings tell his story in a graphic form. “It’s a story about me as this person who is the ‘everyday man,’ sort of waiting for inspiration. And so at some point in the painting he meets [a man] who says, ‘Why don’t you take a walk in the woods,’ Trés says. “He wears a robe and after seeing the hawk, his robe becomes gold. The gold robe sort of symbolizes his transformation. He’s been enlightened or inspired.” The painting is a continuous series, in which the color palette goes from darker to brighter—just like Trés’ journey.