Robert Bates trial captured through sketches

Posted at 6:54 PM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-28 19:54:36-04

TULSA - During the Robert Bates trial, images from inside the courtroom told an important part of the story. But they didn't come from the cameras of a television station or newspaper. 

For six days of testimony, arguments and eventually a verdict, Tulsa artist Evelyn Petroski sat in the middle row of the courtroom.

With her easel, brushes and canvas in front of her, she captured the entire trial. Cameras weren't allowed in the courtroom for the trial, which is why Petroski was there. 

"I have to try to recreate what a camera can capture in like a nanosecond," Petroski said. 

She spent more than a week freezing every witness in time. 

"If they're on the witness box, to me they're the star," she said. 

She also focused on Bates, Judge Bill Musseman, and lawyers Clark Brewster, Kevin Grey and John David Luton. Petroski looks for emotion and tries to capture that - which she found in Brewster's closing arguments on Wednesday. 

"Yesterday, you could tell when he was happy or unhappy. That is what I look for," she mentioned.

Unlike other artists who express themselves through their art, Petroski worked to show the trial more like a journalist. She said she tries to remove any bias from her paintings. 

"If they (other artists) get an impression that someone is guilty, innocent, right or wrong, it comes through," she said. "That's not my job. My job is to paint what I see and that is it."

So with her ammo-holder-turned-brush-holder on her forearm, Petroski sat through the trial quickly sketching each person who played a role in the trial. She then finished each painting during court recesses, spending up to 3 hours on each piece.

The jury is the one image she didn't capture, but the jury is what left an impression on the artist.

"They did their best I'm sure," Petroski said. "They're the ones that got chosen by both lawyers to be there. So I think it came out the way it was supposed to come out."

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