COMMERCE, Texas – Retiring Texas A&M University-Commerce President Keith McFarland has been honored with a portrait that now hangs in the Administration Building.
Debora Schubert Lytle, a 1987 bachelor of fine arts graduate of A&M-Commerce, was commissioned to paint McFarland’s portrait. The oil painting of McFarland, tenth president in the 118-year history of the university, is the eighth portrait that Lytle has been commissioned to paint of A&M-Commerce presidents, faculty, administrators, and alumni.
“Debora did a great job,” McFarland said of his likeness, which now hangs next to the painting of the late F.H. “Bub” McDowell, eighth president of the university.
Of her work as a portraiture artist, Lytle said, “It’s very rewarding. I always start with the face first. That is what is most important to me, but a lot of artists do the background first.”
When she began painting portraits, her son, Jaret, now 23, employed at L-3, and working on a master’s at A&M-Commerce, was often her subject. “He was my guinea pig. I’ve painted several portraits of my son,” she said.
This local artist, who is also the art teacher at Commerce Middle School and married to retired A&M-Commerce employee Jerry Lytle, began work on the McFarland portrait in January. “I photographed Dr. McFarland and looked at photographs of him. I photographed copies of the books he wrote and the bookshelf in his office in the Social Sciences Building where he had worked as a history professor,” she said.
In the painting, McFarland stands in front of a bookshelf, complete with a model plane built by his son that rests on a shelf.
McFarland retired as president on July 16 and has been succeeded by Dr. Dan Jones, who comes from Texas A&M International University, where he had served as provost, vice president of academic affairs, chief student affairs officer, and English professor.
McFarland and his wife, Nancy, will continue to live in Commerce.
PRESIDENTIAL PORTRAIT – Retiring Texas A&M University-Commerce President Keith McFarland and artist Debora Schubert Lytle stand in front of an oil painting of McFarland that now hangs in the Administration Building. A 1987 fine arts graduate of A&M-Commerce, Lytle was commissioned to paint McFarland’s portrait. Tenth president of A&M-Commerce, McFarland retired this month. He has been succeeded by Dr. Dan Jones, formerly with Texas A&M International University.
(A&M-Commerce photo/Paul Bryan)