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Art for inspiration

Photo by Joselyn King Wheeling Park High graduate Vondel Bell poses with one of his latest works.

WHEELING — Vondel Bell always wanted to draw on the walls when he was a child, and he usually got punished when he did.

Now an adult, the former football star at Wheeling Park High School and California University of Pennsylvania, is an artist who gets paid for painting walls, shoes, T-shirts, logos and most anything else he wants.

Bell’s current project is at Bridge Street Middle School, where he has been retained to draw and then paint larger-than-life portraits of noteworthy individuals in the school’s hallways. Later, he will add inspirational quotes said by the individuals.

Portraits of Nelson Mandela and Albert Einstein already are complete. Currently in the works are others of basketball athletes LeBron James and Diana Taurasi, baseball player Jackie Robinson, football player Peyton Manning, gymnast Simone Biles, tennis player Serena Williams and soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. The individuals to be depicted were selected by Jessica Broski-Birch, principal at Bridge Street Middle School.

Bell’s favorite is the highly-detailed depiction of James.

Each portrait stands over 6-feet-tall. Bell said these are considerably larger than the portraits he typically paints at 24 inches by 30 inches.

“I like doing portraits and people’s face,” he said. “It’s what I like doing most.”

He remembers his first portrait was of a Seminole indian, and he painted it using coffee while in kindergarten class.

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