Chicago artist Jason Seiler created Pope Francis' image on Time cover

December 11, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Jason Seiler had already painted NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the runner-up for Time Magazine's Person of the Year, but wasn't told what it was for. Then, last week he got another call to create a portrait of the pope. On Tuesday night, he was sworn to secrecy about the good news.

"I was blown away, I had no idea, I didn't know it was going to get such a reaction, so it's been very exciting," said Seiler.

Jason Seiler says he had only five days to create perhaps the most important painting in his portfolio, Pope Francis. He says it took him 70 hours to complete and spent the most time focusing on two areas of his face.

"I wanted to present him in a more charming type of a way. I needed his eyes to look a certain way so I had to make up his eyes and mouth completely," said Seiler.

Seiler is a classically-trained oil painter who taught himself to paint digitally.

As for the artist who's been painting professionally since he was 15, with this cover, a personal goal has been fulfilled and a childhood dream realized.

"It's the perfect combination of the time of the year, people are happy with the pope, and I'm happy with the way I captured him," said Seiler.

Seiler says thousands of people have contacted him on Facebook-- even from as far away as Australia-- and many of them have tagged his page showing selfies with the Time Magazine cover.

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