CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In a bold break with tradition, Sen. Joe Manchin's official gubernatorial portrait features the former chief executive outdoors, smiling widely, with the Capitol dome in the background.
The portrait was unveiled before a standing-room-only crowd in the governor's reception room Tuesday morning.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Senate President Jeff Kessler, former first lady Gayle Manchin and many family members and former staffers attended the ceremony.
Speaking to the crowd before his portrait was unveiled, Manchin reflected on his time as governor.
"When you leave this position.<\!p>.<\!p>.you always want to make sure the person coming in will find it better than what I had," he said. "That's what it's really all about.
"I'm so proud of our state. I'm who you are. I've come from where you've come from. There's nothing like being a West Virginian," Manchin said.
The crowd applauded loudly after Tomblin, Manchin and his wife pulled the gold-colored cloth from the portrait.
Larry Bruce Bishop, an Alabama-based artist Manchin selected, said he considered it a great honor to have his work displayed in the state Capitol. He has painted many portraits of judges, doctors and corporate executives, but Manchin is his first governor.
The portrait took about a year to complete, Bishop said, but most of that time was spent planning the painting. After Manchin's staff picked Bishop in fall 2010 to paint the portrait, he traveled to West Virginia to take photos of the outgoing governor. He also brought along a videographer to capture Manchin's movements.
Back in the studio, Bishop created various computer renderings of the portrait. He sent Manchin's staff different versions to choose from, with different expressions on the senator's face and different gestures of his hands.
"I like for everyone to be involved in the process," Bishop said.
He only picked up his brush after everyone agreed on the portrait's final layout.
Bishop was selected as Manchin's portrait artist by a panel of friends, colleagues and representatives from the Department of Education and the Arts.
Gayle Manchin said Bishop was everyone's first choice.