Meet The Artist Who Paints And Sells Portraits Of Homeless People, Giving Them The Profits

Brian Peterson's 'Faces of Santa Ana' is an inspirational way to give back to society

painting Matthew

Brian at work painting Matthew

‘Faces of Santa Ana’ is a continuous exhibition of portraits of homeless people, founded by Californian artist Brian Peterson. Brian talks to members of Santa Ana’s homeless community, collects their stories and paints their portraits. After getting a signature from them in the corner of the canvas, Brian then sells the artwork downtown. All the proceeds go to help each subject back on the road to rehabilitation.

Brian is a spiritual man, and he was inspired to start the project after reading a book by a Christian author about loving actions. “Love takes action. Love is often about sacrificing your own time and talents while making yourself available for other people,” Brian explained in an interview with Metro. This core message from the book ‘Love Does’ became the foundation for launching Faces of Santa Ana, and even though Brian hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in seven years, he decided to reach out to the homeless men and women in the city of Santa Ana by using his creative gift. Brian’s aim was to use art as a transformational tool, in addition to simply being there for his new friends by listening to their stories.

Matthew signs his portrait


On his Instagram page, Brian writes this about his subject Matthew: “Is it possible to learn more about a person after your conversation with them is over? I’m discovering that the act of studying a persons facial expression while replaying all the things we spoke about prior, continues to reveal things about personality and life journey.

It prompts me to prepare new questions for them when we run into each other in the future. Sometimes it’s hard to get these guys to open up. Detailed stories are few and far between. But the little bit of information they do entrust to me about their past sticks with me and serves as the means to communicate their stories. Here’s an…image capturing the worry and fear in Matt’s eyes.”

Shannon signs his portrait


“Shannon was the first of my new found friends to sign his piece. His gratitude was a humbling experience for me as an artist. Shannon is an advocate of the overall idea and will stop by to share his story with spectators. Id love to see this guy back on his feet someday.”

Daryl with his painting


Writing on Instagram, Brian says: “Creativity and art have a transformative ability. Darryl uses his unique ability to see value in what others may view as trash to construct iconic items admired by many Santa Ana residents. His walker with the attached roller blades for increased maneuverability is photographed daily by bystanders at the first street bus stop.

“He tells me one day he’ll file for a patent on this idea. Darryl’s new creation he calls “satellite” is made from an old car hubcap and camera tripod stand. He pointed out to me that the legs of the tripod are carefully adjusted so the hub cap points up at the sky like a real satellite would. The items simplicity paired with the familiarity of the found objects brings smiles to the faces of pedestrians waiting at traffic lights, riding bikes, and waiting for the bus.

“He says:  ‘I don’t have cable yet, but I have a satellite!’ I know now that Darryl desires smiles. He yearns for conversation and laughter with strangers that are curious of the thought process behind his creations. When asked about his life on the streets of Santa Ana Darryl stated “I’m above where I’m at. Just because my butts here doesn’t mean my brains here”. Continue to pray for my new friend. He’s always in great spirit and finds optimism where most would give up.”

Darryl likes to collect junk and turn it into useful objects

And here’s Darryl with his ingenious walking device:

Darryl likes to collect junk and turn it into useful objects




Please support Brian’s great work by sharing this article and liking his facebook page and Instagram profile!

This article (Meet The Artist Who Paints And Sells Portraits Of Homeless People, Giving Them The Profits) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and

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