The art of giving back

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lawrence Sena
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

An artist grabs his brushes as he enters the studio and stands up a wooden easel, placing a new canvas on it for preparation. After meticulously tempering the surface by dampening and drying the canvas, he brings his creative vision to life by crafting a light pencil sketch as a rough guide for his future brush strokes. Blueprint complete, the artist then grabs his brush, dips it in water and begins mixing vibrant colors together before finally holding up his brush and bringing forth his idea into reality.

For Tech. Sgt. Isaac Denton, 66th Training Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist, his passion for art goes beyond the canvas to his family and community.

“When I started making a little bit of money with my art, my wife and I thought it would be good to find a charity or organization to donate and give back to,” Denton said.

The search quickly came to an end when Denton and his wife discovered an organization that helps impact an element of life they experience every day.

“When deciding on a charity, we looked into one that impacts us personally,” Denton said. “Our four-year-old was diagnosed with autism, so that created a completely different dynamic within our family. After some looking, I decided to donate 10 percent of my earnings from selling my art to a local foundation that promotes autism awareness.”

Denton’s contributions would grow beyond monetary donations into an opportunity to generate greater support for the organization and its cause.

“The foundation later gave me the opportunity to donate my art to an auction where proceeds went to promoting more autism awareness.” Denton said. “I donated two pieces in the in the auction and raised $700.”

Due to the success his artwork brought during the auction, Denton was able to establish a partnership with an event manager at the local music venue where the auctions were held.

“Through these auctions I was able to make some connections to the manager of the music venue, and we came up with the idea of me creating paintings of the artists that come play at the venue,” Denton said. “We would have the artists sign the artwork and then sell the piece, with the profits supporting autism awareness.”

Denton fostered good relations with the musicians which allowed him to expand his reach within the music industry and create more pieces to contribute to future auctions.

“At the last auction we had, I provided a total of 11 paintings that were signed by musicians I painted,” Denton said. “We were able to raise $16,000 with those paintings toward the foundation.”

Despite having a wife and four children at home, Denton finds ways to manage everything given to him without sacrificing his ability to be a father, husband and artist, said Master Sgt. John Konkol, 66th TRS SERE specialist and Denton’s supervisor.

“I dedicate a pretty good amount of my time to my artwork, but it is challenging at times,” Denton said. “I get up, go to work and come home, where I have four kids, so I make sure to spend a lot of time with them and help around the house as much as I can.”

Balancing family life with work while finding time to create his art can be challenging. However, through his passion for his work and giving back, Denton is able to continue creating art in support of other families who do not have access to the resources needed to care for their autistic children.

“Finding the time is the biggest challenge right now, but my wife and I [have the] passion to help out other families in need, especially those who don’t have access to certain therapies we have in the military,” Denton said.

“Denton’s community involvement is massively important,” said Konkol. “The hours dedicated to his artwork raising more than $40,000 has made major impacts in the community and other families with children who have autism, benefitting from the funds raised.”

Denton’s ability to successfully complete his duties as an Airman, Father and community member is just one example of Airmen going beyond the call of duty to give back to the community.

The sound of youthful laughter leaks in from the background, making its way to the artist’s ears, prompting the artist to pause. He sets down his brush and steps back to analyze his work that transformed a blank canvas into an eye-catching work of art. Turning from his creation, he joins his four young boys to play, switching his focus to being a parent as he continues to be dedicated to his family, community and country.