(JustPatriots.com)- The artist who rose to MAGA stardom with his realistic representations of the 45th president and the movement he represents claims he is prospering 15 months after leaving office.
It’s hard to disagree with Jon McNaughton. Depending on your perspective, he is either a joke of a realism painter or one of the greatest truth-tellers ever.
His portrayals of Trump have gotten him both scorn and adulation on the internet.
They’ve also gained him admirers in the political and media elites. According to McNaughton, Sean Hannity has acquired between six and ten of his paintings.
Now that Trump has departed the White House, you would think McNaughton would be in tough times. He had lost his muse.
But in a recent interview, he claims to be busier than ever. His original paintings start at $12,000 and go up to $300,000.
“I basically sell a lot more artwork,” he said when asked how celebrity has altered his livelihood as a painter.
McNaughton’s post-Trump life exemplifies how the MAGA movement has evolved into something equally passionate but less centralized.
McNaughton said a painting concept might take up to a year to develop. He spends his spare time reading the Drudge Report and following other political accounts on Twitter. He avoids revealing Fox News for fear of offending his fans. He watches BBC and Al Jazeera.
His post-presidential works include “Solitary Confinement,” which depicts a prisoner with his head down, ankle shackles around him, a red MAGA hat on his head, and the November 2024 presidential election scribbled across the wall.
The artist says he got the idea from Dinesh D’Souza.
In 2010, McNaughton’s painting “The Forgotten Man” went viral, showing Barack Obama stomping on the Constitution, with all prior presidents standing behind him in front of the White House.
His first painting of Trump was done after he was elected. “You Are Not Forgotten” featured Trump surrounded by police officers, military, and veterans.
Like many Republicans half a decade ago, McNaughton wasn’t a Trump supporter. He preferred Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the 2016 primaries and only started following Trump when he believed the press and his opponents unfairly treated him.
The Mueller inquiry inspired McNaughton, 54, to paint “Expose the Truth.” It featured an enraged Trump holding former special counsel Robert Mueller’s tie and a magnifying glass to his face. That’s when he became a defender instead of just an observer of Trump.
McNaughton relocated to Provo, Utah, with his family. He received a scholarship at BYU to study painting. He started selling mutual funds and conducting financial planning. In his early thirties, he became a full-time landscape painter.
Unlike much modern art, McNaughton’s is extraordinarily realistic, featuring figures that resemble photos, although he cites Banksy, Goya, Picasso, and Warhol as influences.
He said he spends a lot of time thinking about what he wants the image to be, looking for outlandish concepts on the surface but with serious undertones.
People who disagree with his way of thinking may laugh or become enraged. The artwork evokes a variety of feelings in individuals.
McNaughton says he paints from a position of “not really trusting authority” as a theme. He is a contrarian in both his art and politics. He doubts the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccinations and is not vaccinated, believes Trump won the 2020 election and is undecided about which side he supports in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Putin invaded a sovereign country, he said. In contrast, the west, Ukraine, and NATO have been poking the bear for years.
He drew both Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Russian President Putin. His creative ambitions for the latter mirror the psychological turmoil of the war.
On one hand, he would have a dove with an olive branch, and on the other, a human skull.
With creative impulses like these, it’s no wonder McNaughton has been criticized. On McNaughton’s website, you may browse through renowned artwork and see individuals named “Liberal News Reporter,” “Satan,” and “Mr. Hollywood.”
But, in this age of division, McNaughton is admired on the right. While he doesn’t take commissions, he claimed conservative media figures like Hannity and D’Souza had approached him with suggestions. He said he had a “private conversation” with Trump in January at a Texas event.
He said Trump wasn’t expecting him, and when he walked in and told him who he was, he lit up, and they had a good conversation.
They discussed art a lot.