Inner Michael » An Artist’s Portrait: A Christmas gift from Inner Michael

An Artist’s Portrait: A Christmas gift from Inner Michael

How to you paint a man who is the most famous face on Earth? How do you do justice to a face that many have called beautiful when speaking about the face of a man? And this is a face that shape-shifted over the decades he was in the public eye. The consummate shaman always taking another form? And another. And yet another. Even in his music videos the shapeshifting continues when there is a message to deliver. And most of the messages are deep and require rapt attention and reflection and self-reflection to decode. In one short film, a magnificent cat- the black panther, a racial justice mascot; in another a whirlwind of particles that shape and reshape like atoms- a DNA spiral that can neither be created or destroyed while the theme is ‘history’; in another a mirror so that all can look at self and evaluate what is reflected by self into the world; in another he begins to sacrifice himself by crumbling and turning to dust only to blow away and disappear simply because he is asked to; he becomes the skeleton dancing without humanity and flesh; he becomes a monster demonstrating the shape-shifting ability of humanity to be all of the above; in others he is the human let down by inhumanity and betrayal; in still others he is the magician, the hero, the Jester, the King and a thousand other archetypes of humanity.

What would an artist use to color this man’s memory? What palette hue could serve as a foundation behind his face to reveal the light of this man’s skin and the light within him that shines through but only for those with eyes to see? For some, he was their hope for a better world and others saw him as a spiritual messenger. He had a skin disease that first made blotches on his dark African skin, requiring dark make-up to even the tones that broadcast his race to his public. Then as the disease spread, lightening the skin with lasers and cream became the best way to even his color because most of the dark pigment was gone. Some thought he was betraying his race; some that he was trying to change it to white. Metaphorically it is perfect: A man for all men, for all seasons, before he died Michael was almost Albino, his skin appearing translucent, giving him an ethereal appearance. So how do you paint someone whose light shines from within through a translucent skin? A face so porcelain that he appears lit from inside? A light-infused face and being? A lightman. Bio-luminescence.

How do you paint a humanitarian who so loved the world that he kept preaching in song that it could be changed for the better and that it was the job of all humanity to change it? How do you paint this picture of a steadfast generous cheerleader of the human race who despite the cynicism that met him in every project and at every turn of his lifetime, conquered and softened hearts? How do you illustrate the spirit of someone who made grown men cry? Who impressed national leaders? Who amassed money and resources for the poor, the disenfranchised, the handicapped and sick, and disadvantaged not for one or two but for continents?

How do you illustrate the great love that one man spread globally to children—donating a large piece of equipment to every hospital in every city he toured? A man who donated more than $300 million in his lifetime to humanitarian organizations and charities? Who visited orphanages all over the world and improved their conditions? A man who weekly invited, and hosted himself or had his staff host, disadvantaged and inner city children at his theme park, theater and mansion so that they could experience something other than their own limited and sad circumstances? How do you paint that?

How do you put on the canvas the two people who were Michael Jackson? There was Michael the humble and simple and loving man and King Michael, the force of nature with a message through music and performance? How do you sketch the two divergent Michaels—the polished, sexy, magnetic  singer and dancer who on stage drove women crazy yet privately and off stage seemed embarrassed by his powerful sexual magnetism and blushed at what women felt toward him? How do you portray this same man who kept his sexual orientation, confirmed heterosexual, private so that gays wouldn’t be uncomfortable being fans because they found him attractive and hoped against hope that he was gay too?

How do you illustrate the child-man who was Michael Jackson? The boyish and child-like, gentle and fun-loving Michael who loved carnival rides, water balloon fights and pie throwing long into adulthood? The sexy stage persona dancing male whom every woman in the audience was in love with and sexually attracted to reminiscent of the adolescent hormones and crushes of high school? The man who aroused the fiercely protective female mothering instinct in women who, like a mama bear, should you mess with her baby would tear you to pieces? The Michael that gay men worshipped and desired because of his Apollo-like good looks and lithe body?

How do you project the cute little boy, the child star who loved performing—too old for his youth and too young for his sophistication?  How to incorporate the quivering enlisted by the adult Michael singing adult-oriented songs as well as the crooner of tender ballads and then the change-the-world and heal-the-world serious activist lyricist?

How do you reflect the business and industry savvy man who even with his soft voice, held authority unchallenged because of his gift of magnetism, vision and genius, with the childlike tender spirit who paid for funerals for kids he didn’t know; sent his glove, hats and jackets to terminally ill children for comfort and in one case for burial? The man who, when children were harmed in terrorist incidents in schools and neighborhoods, would show up at the airport and request the sheriff to escort him to appear on site and talk to the children to reassure them? The humanitarian who insisted upon a concert in the demilitarized zone of North and South Korea? The ‘pop music icon’ who asked to spend time with soldiers to thank them for their service for America? The concert performer who commanded an audience of 70 thousand showing them an on-stage vignette play within the concert—a military tank and its personnel being stopped and de-weaponized by a child bearing a flower as peace offering?

How to you capture and project the magic of a magic man who seemed to shape shift; to captivate and enchant stadiums full of people; whose lyrics are prayer and who claims God authored all of them and his films; who for four decades embraced all ages, races and ethnic origins and said “I love you” to every audience; who cried on stage when moved; who stepped aside to allow the music to come through his being, whose message never stopped and never wavered: “It’s all about LOVE.” How do you paint that kind of love?

How do you lay on any canvas, a soul who was born in the heartland or soul of America, captivated the capital of soul- Motown in the capital of soul music, Detroit, Michigan? And a soul who captured other souls, and the soul of much of the world and held it close to his heart—the collective soul of humanity and who was betrayed by that same soul? The man who despite this betrayal believed enough in the human spirit and its soul that he planned to come back after psychological exile? A man who intended to with an epic final performance, retrieve the soul that seemed absent- the collective soul of humanity, of Mother Nature and her planet—Earth? An architect who was constructing exactly that when he died? How do you place the soul of all that in some kind of portrait and let the soul of the man shine through? I think you choose a stellar sole artist with a lot of soul. It can’t be done. There is only one artist who could do it and he is no longer with us. That would be Michael Jackson.


  1. Kat said . . .

    Amazing… Thanks for loving him so much. 🙂

    Posted December 25, 2010 at 4:44 am | Permalink
  2. jeanne said . . .

    You just did. Honestly for those who did not have the ability to, you just did. Those who have seen, felt, heard him, know… but for those who do not, you can tell that tale. Of one who was beyond his time, you told that story and well. You painted that picture and well. Because for what you see in him is in you as well. Michael knew that human spirit because he knew from which it came. And he knew that gift was for all.

    Posted December 25, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  3. gertrude said . . .

    God Bless You for this Best Christmas present ever.

    Posted December 25, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  4. Susan T said . . .

    What a beautiful and powerful expression of love! Dare I say that YOUR words capture his esssence, a brave attempt to portray all that he was and continues to be? Thank you, Reverend Barbara, and may the beauty and joy that is Christmas surround you and your family. I’m at a loss for words to express how grateful I am for your writing. Your words are alive and they promise and inspire. May they bring hope for profound change in 2011. In humble gratitude, Susan

    Posted December 25, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  5. lmat said . . .

    I received a gift this Christmas that is the story of four days in the making of Thriller. The gentleman who photographed Michael during that short time remarked, as others did, that Michael was very much a child in an adult’s form. This man said that when, years later, he saw Michael in This is It, that he was comforted in the fact that Michael was still that child/man. That the innocence was still evident as well as the brilliant talent. That wonderful inner child can’t be painted as you say, Barbara. Michael was the painting, wasn’t he? Beautiful and so specially crafted by the Master Creator. Thank you for your love and understanding of Michael and for your own comforting words.

    Posted December 26, 2010 at 6:02 am | Permalink
  6. Dalia said . . .

    Not physically, but his spirit, his essence, his legacy– how can you paint that? Perhaps not be in a painting but this is reflected in the heart of every person who knows him inside. When you say it in written word spoken by the heart, it projects the man he was. Another man 2000 years ago was born a man full of light who was a messenger of God who, by action and example, will never be forgotten. Michael still shines and that reflection is intense, perhaps enough to project that love through us. I thought about children suffering, the hungry, those who are sick, the abused, exploited, deprived of their rights and they will not have a happy Christmas. It is a painful reality that most people find hard to face. Michael was one of the few people with the courage not to avoid those things– he went out to find a way to change this reality a bit and that is admirable. We can do it now in his name. I love how you can speak to the heart, that is why I like Inner Michael.

    Posted December 26, 2010 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  7. Anne UK said . . .

    Oh Rev Barbara,
    You have just painted the picture that you say couldn’t be done. As I’m reading this I can see in my mind the most beautiful picture of the most beautiful man.Ive always found your writing to be inspired and thought provoking but this time to me there is only one word to describe this post and that word is “beautiful”.Thank you from the bottom of my heart.With much love Anne UK.xx

    Posted December 26, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  8. admin said . . .

    We are all that painting created by the Master Creator. When we recognize that the child/man and child/woman arises, salvation returns and the world that Michael envisioned for us manifests. ~B

    Posted December 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  9. Nikki said . . .

    What an amazingly beautiful post! You’ve outdone yourself! Thank you so much for admiring Michael the way you do and having the gift of capturing his spirit with your words. I always feel uplifted when visiting this site. Thank you, Barbara! With love, Nikki

    Posted December 27, 2010 at 1:10 am | Permalink
  10. Amber said . . .

    Amazing write, and I have to agree with your comment about the possibiliy of gays hoping that he was gay. I am a 30 something year old woman and I can vouch for being a gay man trapped in this body! Much Love! Amber

    Posted December 27, 2010 at 1:14 am | Permalink
  11. Elizabeth said . . .

    Thank you for painting Michael with your words. You always hit the mark. In the words of Michael Joseph Jackson, “you and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back”. Thank you Rev B for this most beautiful Christmas present of the most beautiful man, Michael Joseph Jackson, it’s all for love – L.O.V.E. with tears streaming LYM

    Posted December 27, 2010 at 2:05 am | Permalink
  12. Tamara said . . .

    Great Post. I am grateful that I am one of the others that is able to see and paint the whole picture. With Love, souldreamer7

    Posted December 27, 2010 at 4:55 am | Permalink
  13. Tamara said . . .

    …it continues to flow….

    Posted December 27, 2010 at 4:59 am | Permalink
  14. Cassieformaxwell said . . .

    You just painted it. Michael’s essence cannot be captured through pens and inks and drawings. He can only be captured in the spirit form and held inside every heart that he permeated with all of the above. We each see him differently, but in each design, in each portrait is created the perfect picture of who he was to each one of us individually. Put all together, I can envision they would form the perfect image of what ever it is that pure, divine love would look like. Thank you for your words. They fit Michael Jackson like a glove.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink
  15. Kim said . . .

    Beautiful representation of Michael. Thank you for the gift.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 1:51 am | Permalink
  16. Nicole P-H said . . .

    I only can say “Thank You” Barbara, for offering your sacred words for Michael, for us and for Humanity. As Michael says in his song “Best of Joy:” “Our love is a sacred thing…Our love comes from the heart…We are forever”. I Love you most, Barbara ! Nicole P-H (France)

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  17. Tania from Australia said . . .

    Dear Rev Barbara, This is the most beautiful portrait of Michael I could ever have had the privilege of seeing. It’s been painted on my mind now and whenever the cruelty of this world towards Michael becomes too much to bear, I will revisit this portrait and allow my heart and soul to rest and recharge and then rejoin the fight for his legacy. It’s too important not to, given this very illustration you have shared. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart for this simply overwhelming, but perfect representation of the totality of who Michael is. You have painted him with love and joy and light. He is all of that to me and clearly to you also. Bless you abundantly Rev B for this precious gift at Christmas. Much love to you now and always. xx

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  18. Judy said . . .

    We have been trying to describe the pure essence of Michael for years and you have done it in one, sweet, loving, heart-felt tribute. He was so much to so many and yet remained kind and humble. We saw in his eyes his true spirit, we saw in his smile his sweet, pure innocence, we heard in his music his passion for all living things and we heard angels when he sang.We appreciate Inner Michael and Michaeling, and being called Sparkle People and we appreciate you Rev Barbara, for loving Michael and for making sense of this awful chaos in our heads and the deep ache we all feel in our hearts. God Bless – It’s all for love…L.O.V.E.

    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:57 am | Permalink

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