Sunday, October 29, 2006

From Bennie:

This has been a fairly tough few days for me and Joan. On what would've been my final art show weekend of the year I instead spent working on a resume' and preparing applications for a 3rd shift job. Early last week Joan and I decided to cancel my trip to Maggie Valley, NC. After the poor sales in Waynesville, NC a few weeks back we figured we'd stop as much of our financial bleeding as possible and save the expenses I would've incurred.

Looking back over the past year I can still see the potential of remaining a full-time artist. Unfortunately we don't have the reserve cash to continue paying for entry fees, lodging, and gas to get me to the shows. Add to the fact that I would have to return to Florida (where I had little success) for art events until early Spring, the decision was practically made for me to go in another least temporarily.

Having to retire my dream of being a professional artist would be a bitter pill to swallow. Since the beginning of our relationship me and Joan have always sought to involve God in our lives. Even during the most difficult moments involving Ben's health we remained convinced that there was a "higher" purpose for everything happening to us.

With a little bit of time behind us we were convinced that having to sell our family business was an opportunity to let me fulfill my lifelong dream. We were particularly convinced after an outstanding first show out of town in May 2005. In fact I had fairly decent success until September of last year - just after an event called Hurricane Katrina.

To sum things up, I'm looking at our situation as a minor set-back. Perhaps it is another opportunity to share my artwork in some other way. I'm still convinced my career is destined to involve my talent for painting. I can truly say that I am a happier person than I was two years ago and that I've worked harder at this job than any others I've had in my past.

I always tell folks that Ben is my biggest influence. If that is the case then my biggest supporter is my wife. Some time ago I remember seeing statistics in regards to failed marriages due to huge life-changing events like raising a special needs child, or financial troubles, or the loss of a business. The percentages were like 80 percent or "better" that divorce was likely. I will say that I feel like a champion in that we've faced each of these things (if not more - Joan and I both had cheating first spouses) and our marriage has survived.

Some may ask why I'm seeking third shift work? It is a necessity due to Ben's care and Jessie's school hours. Third shift is not set in stone but I'd have to find a great deal of part time work at odd hours to accommodate our financial obligations. My initial hope was to have sales from this blog, E-Bay, and allow me to continue painting and daily care for Ben. I have offered 7 pieces for sale here, 4 at E-Bay, and 7 at ArtByUs in the past month. I have sold a total of two paintings: one here and one that I carried to a recent show. That is not a great start to the off-season especially when the holidays are approaching and folks are thinking about gifts.

Me and Ben will continue to work together. Painting has become an important therapy for Ben and me. I find more satisfaction in completing one of our collaborations than I do in completing one of my own. There are moments that our communication barriers are broken and we are actually conversing with each other! Plus I see the joy he receives from participating in the creative process just like me. No father could ask for anything better.

I want to thank each and every one of my customers. I will continue to add artwork for sale here as time permits. Many times you made me feel like a professional artist from the wonderful things you said about my paintings. My hope is that you will enjoy your paintings for many years to come and that I will see you at art shows next year!

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