The Duncan Banner

August 19, 2012

Art replaces addictions

Trentham paints his way out of darkness, prison

Rebeka Rutledge
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — A painting of a fairy girl who wears a haunted expression captures the viewers attention, but it’s the details within it that make the viewer question just who the artist is. The subject shows the girl with a syringe, depicting the realities of drug addiction.

In the same room, bold and vibrant paintings of Native Americans and animals also share space.

It’s the work of Daniel Trentham, who is fairly new to the Duncan community.

For some, art is part of who they are, something they need to do in order to be themselves — and for others, it may be a hobby, just a fun activity. For Trentham, art is a learned skill that is his saving grace.

A recovering addict and alcoholic, Trentham began developing his talent in 2006 while serving time in an Oklahoma federal prison. The fairy girl painting was a project he did while in prison.

Getting involved in the art program behind bars has helped him change his life.

In prison, Trentham needed an outlet to keep him occupied. He first tried to get involved with the music program.

“There was too much violence there and everyone trying to be the ‘it’ person,” Trentham said. “The art room was a place I could go, put my ear buds in and escape from all of that.”

Trentham became so involved in the prison art program, that he also continued to help it become a safe haven for those who were interested in learning the craft. He said if he knew a person was serious about learning, he took them under his wing and tried to make sure they stayed out of the more violent activities.

Between reading books and the trial and error process, he learned several different art mediums such as oil paints, graphite and ink pens. While he leans heavily toward oil painting, there is no telling what his next canvas may depict.

“I paint whatever inspires me and to say I have a preference wouldn’t be correct,” he said. “I have no control over what inspires me.”

Throughout his home in Duncan, the walls are almost covered with his works. Native American figures, wildlife, fantasy art and many other subjects brighten his home.

He’s transformed a small bedroom into his studio and has several current paintings he is working on, which he said is standard.

“I work on three to four things at a time and start one project after another,” Trentham said. “I’m working on an eagle painting and I’m a perfectionist, so the fine details slow me down.”

Coming to Duncan

During Trentham’s transition between prison and an Oklahoma halfway house, he made a visit to Jolene Forbes at her art gallery in Oklahoma City.

After introductions were made, he offered to clean her studio every week in exchange for a few hours to paint.

Forbes lives in the Duncan/Marlow area and before long, Trentham had moved to Duncan. However, he said his move came through divine appointment. He has joined the Duncan Art Guild and although he sold his first painting to his new landlord, he’s not sure where his art will lead him.

“The good Lord has me doing so many things, I’m just doing what He says when He says,” said Trentham. Although he has only lived in Duncan since February, he said he has a high opinion for the town, its residents and his new church family at Freedom Biker Church.

“I love Duncan and my experience has been wonderful,” he said. “People seem genuine and caring and I’ve been blessed with a good church.”