He may not be a past president who has taken up painting after getting out of office, but not unlike former President George Bush, current Loganville Police Chief Mike McHugh is working on his own version of “Portraits of Courage.” McHugh, who dabbles in painting in his off duty time, has been commissioned by the Georgia Department of Public Safety to paint the portraits of all 27 Georgia State Patrol trooper who have died in the line of duty since 1937. The first 11 of the GSP Trooper’s portraits in the “Lest We Forget” series were revealed at the 80th Anniversary Celebration of GSP on March 11, 2017. Once the series is complete, it will be on display at the Department of Public Safety headquarters in Atlanta.
While many marvel at this hidden talent in the Loganville police chief, for McHugh it was a labor of love and one that, according to his wife, he found very humbling.
“He learned how each trooper died and he wanted each painting to be amazing,” Chris McHugh said. “This has been so humbling for him.”
McHugh said he has painted for several years and this commission from the GSP came about after he had painted a portrait of the father of one of his employees at the Loganville Police Department.
“His wife still works here and she had taken a picture of the portrait and shown it to them and I guess they seemed to be impressed,” McHugh said. “Gordy Wright (of the GSP) then called me last fall and gave me a contract. I did four for them initially.”
McHugh said he then met again with Wright as well as Col. Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, and was given the commission to complete the whole “Lest We Forget” series.
“I’ve had commissions before, but not any as important as this one for Col. McDonough,” McHugh said, adding that while he has painted portraits for family and friends, such as the one he painted of the late former Mayor Ray Nunley, he initially started out painting nature scenes – landscapes and seascapes. “Then when my dad passed I did one of him for my sister and then another for my wife’s grandfather, and it just went from there. I never feel that they look good enough, but I have done lots more over the years.”
For the full story of Loganville Police Chief Mike McHugh’s series on GSP’s series in the latest issue of Walton Living Magazine, click or tap on this link, or pick up a print copy of the issue at any Walton County city hall or library or at the Walton County Chamber of Commerce.