Andover artist touching lives of orphans halfway around the world one drawing at a time

ANDOVER, Mass. — Rob Surette is a speed painter from Andover. He holds several world records and has painted personal portraits of some of the biggest celebrities in the world including Kobe Bryant, Justin Bieber, Andrea Bocelli, David Ortiz, Tom Brady and Oprah Winfrey.

For the past 28 years, Rob has visited more than 4,000 schools with his inspirational speed painting shows.

“I tell them you don’t have to be famous or in the spotlight or rich like maybe these people I speed paint. Sometimes the most beautiful people are those far from the spotlight,” he said.

That spotlight can’t get any further than Ghana. The tiny West African nation is about 5,000 miles from Boston and it’s home to an orphanage called the Nazareth Home For God’s Children.

“These children hadn’t seen what they look like themselves. I remember volunteers going over with a mirror to show them what they look like,” Kelly DeLuca said.

DeLuca is a 31-year-old nurse practitioner who lives in Hopedale. She saw one of Rob’s speed painting shows while in high school and says she was so moved by the humanitarian segment of it that it inspired her to make the world a little better. Through a friend, she found out about the orphanage and has now visited it twice.

Rob was so touched after hearing about Kelly’s visits that he offered to draw a portrait of each child living at the orphanage for free. Each drawing takes four hours and Rob has spent the past three years on the masterpieces. Rob just completed the 65th and final portrait on Monday.

“I want them to feel special. I want them to feel loved. I want them to know there is a Disney artist in America and a lot of other people who care,” he said.

The portraits will hang in the dining room wall of the orphanage.

“To have a special drawing of themselves is so personal. I can’t imagine how special they will feel knowing someone took the time to draw their portrait, and to have it in the orphanage where it is displayed everyday will be absolutely incredible,” Kelly said.

A friend of Kelly’s from Colorado is flying to Ghana on Sunday to deliver them. You can donate to the Nazareth Home For God’s Children here.

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