“Be the Love,” – the official name of the painting created by Donna Heil, a Charlotte artist and interior designer.
When Donna took a sunset picture of the Charlotte skyline from Randolph Road, she knew it was for a larger purpose.
What she didn’t know – at first– was that she would use the sunset photo to inspire the backdrop for her painting that went viral on social media the day after protests in Uptown that followed the officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.
“I knew that [Be the Love] was the message I wanted to send. After I painted it, I posted the photo and I asked people to share it on their Facebook pages. I thought I’d get a good amount of shares but I didn’t anticipate it going into the thousands.”
“So many people wrote so many things about the piece,” she said. “A little piece can make a big impact.”
“I used the same color of paint on each hand to create the skin undertones for each and the sunray coming off the top was intentional. It’s a spiritual message that’s about love and working together. There’s a lot of power in that.”
Donna says that living in the city for 32 years and being an artist, she’s developed friendships with individuals from every walk of life. While Charlotte has changed a lot in the time since she’s lived here, she acknowledges that there’s still work to be done to unify the community.
“Charlotte has always been a melting pot of people, and because of that I think we’re not unified as a city. Most everyone has their other hometown,” she said “We need more events and activities that bring people together for healing.”
Donna offers her personal commitment to continue painting. She says she doesn’t want her “Be the Love” artwork to become a “one and done.”
It won’t be. With more than 1,900 shares including from countries as near as Canada and as far as Australia, Donna’s promotion of “healing and love” resonated not just in Charlotte, but all over the world. She knows those with an appreciation for art took notice of the care and detail in the piece, including her use of colors and symbolism.
“I used the same color of paint on each hand to create the skin undertones for each and the sunray coming off the top was intentional. It’s a spiritual message of love and working together. There’s a lot of power in that.”
To view Donna’s artwork visit, including “Be the Love” visit http://donnaheilart.com/.