Throughout his life, despite the challenges, Dante Patterson’s focus on art was something that didn’t seem to waiver.
Patterson remembers it was a distant cousin who created this love of art.
He said this cousin would visit from Bowling Green every two or three months and he remembers a portrait he drew of his mother standing next to a willow tree.
“I wanted to be on that level. It was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
Since then, he has faced his share of road blocks. Patterson went to prison for attempted murder and other related charge. He was there for 18 years and seven months before being released in August 2021.
Patterson, while in penitentiary, honed and continued to practice his own artistic endeavors, specifically in photo-realistic graphite drawings.
“Penitentiary can make you, shape you or break you. It’s up to you,” he said.
Patterson was born in Elizabethtown but grew up in Hodgenville until he was 7-years-old, and then moved back to Elizabethtown. At 9-years-old, his mother was killed in a traffic crash.
He said he specifically remembers sneaking into the hospital away from his family and pulled the sheet off her body to see her face, which had been half destroyed in the wreck.
He dropped out of high school and began doing a lot of traveling around the country.
Patterson said he never stopped working on his art, continuing to practice his skills. It also helped him to get sober.
Patterson said he is a “hyper realist” artist and likes to draw. He said he’s not really interested in sketching or painting. He said he likes to use graphite to draw since it shows everything up front. He has drawn many portraits, typically of famous individuals.
After leaving the penitentiary, Patterson has been living by myself in an apartment in Radcliff for about half a year. At his place, Patterson works at his drawing desk while listening to smooth jazz, constantly refining the piece he’s working until he feels it’s right, and then frames it.
On each of his drawings, he signs it “Big Dante 4” to symbolize both him and his three sons, who all have the same name of “Dante.” The name is actually his middle name, but he prefers to go by it.
One of his sons, Dante Alexander Patterson, died years ago from a rare brain cancer. Along with art, Dante said he wants to work again on the Dante Foundation which supports children with cancer that he founded after his son’s death.
After prison, he became acquainted with New Horizons, a sober living facility, which helped him transition and now he also works with the organization’s substance abuse efforts as a peer mentor.
He said he’s now completely focused on his art and family and wants to live a life with positivity.
“I’m not going to keep my life in the back while I’m trying to go forward,” he said. “I can’t go forward looking in the rearview mirror. I can’t do that.”
However, Patterson still continues to face some challenges. He is diabetic, and said that health issues have affected his life, including recently having surgery to have his gallbladder removed. Still, he said he’s getting better and is still working.
Patterson said he’ll be selling some work in an exhibition at the Kentucky Moonshine Festival on June 11 in Radcliff. This will be the first time he’ll be selling his art. He wants to continue to show his work in any capacity.
Patterson said he wants to inspire others, including children, with his art and portfolio and encourage them to never give up and continue to hone their skills.
“All I want to do is live and I just want to show my art,” he said. “I just want to do art.”