Using Cremated Remains to Make Portraits

Nov 4, 2015 | 0 comments

Donnie Roberts Cremation Portrait

Donnie Roberts’ Cremation Portrait

As far as Dusty Jonakin knows, he’s the first artist to paint portraits of deceased people and pets using only their cremated remains and linseed oil. There’s no paint involved.

He came up with the idea in 2009, while discussing the topic of cremation with his buddy Donnie Roberts. A year and a half later, Donnie was tragically killed by a car while he was walking home from work. Jonakin was good friends with Donnie and his wife. They knew he wanted to be cremated, but didn’t know what Donnie would have wanted done with his remains.

Dog Cremation Portrait“I presented the idea [of painting a portrait] to his wife, and she loved it,” said Jonakin. “I was comfortable with it because I know he would have liked it. After that, people started seeing it and the response was overwhelmingly positive.”

“I’ve slowly shifted into doing more of these cremation portraits, outside of regular portraits for families,” he explained. “It’s just taken off, and I figured, what better place to come and find more work than at NFDA?”

The funeral directors’ responses have been very positive. “I was worried that people might be a little creeped out by it, but you’d be surprised,” he said.

All of the portraits are black and white, due to the nature of cremated remains. You can view more examples at Dusty Jonakin’s website:

Cremation Portraits
A Good Goodbye