Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Rebecca Bornemeier is heading to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to present her acrylic drawing, "Finish," to President Bush on Wednesday. She hopes eventually to present a painting to Oprah Winfrey.

Sometimes, people get to meet their heroes.

Rebecca Bornemeier admired President George W. Bush's reaction to the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001. As an artist, she exhibited her admiration by depicting him in a painting looking over apparent destruction with a sense of hope. And after careful coordination, Bornemeier finally gets to meet her hero — the one depicted in her painting — when she heads to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to present it to the president.

"You do a portrait of someone who inspires you, but the whole end of that dream is to give it them," Bornemeier said of the experience. She was elated to learn June 21 that she had an appointment with Bush.

When the president calls, she said, "you don't say no." So the 21-year-old art teacher canceled classes and immediately scheduled a flight.

"It's a great experience. It's worth every penny," Bornemeier said. She has been hoping to give the painting to Bush since its completion in December. She solicited help on her Web site, and contacted the governor's office. She was then directed to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who helped her set up the appointment.

"It was almost too good to be true, but then I was like, 'Yes! I did it!' " she said. She still has the message saved on her cell phone and gets butterflies when she listens to it.

Bornemeier did not wake up an artist. She has been working on her talent "ever since I could hold a paintbrush," she said. Her skills are mostly self-taught, although she says she learned a lot from teachers while attending Viewmont High School in Bountiful.

Art teacher Roger Cushing remembers her as a hard worker who seemingly loved life. He is not surprised that she is meeting Bush.

"She's a go-getter," Cushing said. "She's a self-motivated kind of person. She's kind of charismatic that way." He helped Bornemeier get started on the technique she used to create the painting right before she graduated. She has gone on to develop that method to make it all her own, in fact naming it after herself.

"I call it Rebecca's platinum smokebrush," she said. The technique is graphite-based, so it's erasable and airbrush is used for touch-up work.

The painting of Bush took Bornemeier three months to complete. She received limited help from her boyfriend, Clark Cooper, whose name is also on the painting, although in much smaller print than hers. He claims "1 percent" and will be traveling to Washington with her, as a friend and photographer.

When asked why Bush's eyes stand out on the painting, Bornemeier says the eyes are what matter in a person.

"I've always been so excited when it comes to life," she said. "And that's why I always focus on the eyes." She said she has always loved drawing people, and she often paints people that she admires.

Her next goal is to present Oprah Winfrey with a painting that she has done of her with an African child. She also does paintings of her family and does commissioned work.

As for her career, Bornemeier is unsure where life will take her but hopes to always be in a classroom.

"My students teach me just as much as I teach them," she said.

Her advice to her students at the Ogden Blue Art School, and to other artists advancing their careers, is to ask for help. She believes that she is just an average individual who got a push because she set a goal, and she encourages others to do the same.

"It's hard to do it by yourself," she said. "You have to be humble and ask for help. I could never have met the president without Orrin Hatch."


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