There aren’t enough words to describe the creative talent that is Benjamin M. Prewitt. At first glance, his paintings grabbed me and somehow made me feel whole. The photo above is a photograph of one of them. I could look at them for hours. Much like his paintings, Prewitt exudes passion, love and grace with his inspiring and beautiful words of love, struggle and his day to day experiences as an artist. His website titled, Expressions of my life – An evolution of art, My journey through life as an artist, father, and person with young onset Parkinson’s, will make you feel at home and treat you to a dose of reality, gratitude and smiles. I am so lucky and honored to present to you all an interview I did with Benjamin.
Connie: Your paintings can be very intense and exudes all kind of emotions. I understand that this may be too general a question, but what inspires you and your pieces?
Benjamin: It’s funny you should use the word emotions in conjunction with my Art. I think it was best said by a person who follows and collects my art that I seem to produce “Emotional Expressionism.” One the things you’ll find in my comments as I communicate with people on my website is I often paint the things I need in my life or the feelings that I am experiencing the most clearly at the time. Also, I believe that in my 2013 Press Release which was written about me and for me, but not by me, explains it and me fairly well.
Your blog, Expressions of my life – An evolution of art, My journey through life as an artist, father, and person with young onset Parkinson’s, is filled with entries you’ve written that include music videos, poetry and your paintings. You also post a lot of positive energy and loving words to your readers. How did you come about blogging your experiences?
Blogging was never my intention really. Neither was having close to a thousand active “followers” and over 21K comments. I originally started my blog as a place to vent about having Parkinson’s and look for people that were suffering from chronic pain as I do. Only after a friend suggested that I start posting some of my paintings did I actually start actively contemplating using the “on-line” medium as a way to reach people through my art and story. As far as the positive energy and loving statements I make, its me simply. I like helping people; if one kind word can do good to the right person and the right time of their life, then 10 kind words is better than 1.
Do you have an artistic process you go through for each of your paintings and if so, can you share that process with us?
That is a trick question of sorts; a process, yes, I do both an emotional and physical process. My posts called “Parkinson’s and Power-tool” or ” The Process” detail visually the actual actions I go through. Though the real creation happens in my head. I often will paint the piece step by step in my mind before my palette knife ever touches the panel. People (other artists) have often commented on how many paintings I have done in a short period of time. I think it’s because of the process I use. I truly see all my work crystal clear before I put it down.
As well as a painter, you are exceptionally gifted with words. Did you study writing at all?
Thank you. It’s funny you should mention that. Actually no, not a single writing class ever. When I was in the 3rd grade I wrote a very heart felt piece that shocked all the adults and teachers around me. It was during a very hard time in my life. My father and step mother had just divorced and I was living as a “latch key kid” pretty much by myself, yet, in my fathers apartment until my grandmother got word of it and moved up to help raise me. That piece was about the war between angels and Demons and how at its conclusion I felt the Demons were winning, fairly dark for an 8 year old boy. But it was published in a district wide school publication.
How has your attitude towards life changed since before you learned you had Parkinson’s disease to after?
Prior to Parkinson’s, I had pretty much put “myself” aside and dedicated my entire being to job and family. Not that I believe it to be a bad thing, but really nobody should ever lose self completely as I did. For 20 years, I climbed the corporate ladder; any and all of them. Yet, always keeping my paintings from my 20’s and teens close in storage and every so often I would “wake up” and paint for a while; then I would find I had no time for me and put things away. Though, I have been writing all my life.
After PD, I’ve often been quoted PD is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It took away one life and gave me back another. In that respect, I think its harder on the family than on me. I’ve always been an artist; some of my earliest memories are those of my father painting or me playing with paint in some fashion or form.
Which characteristics must a painting have to be considered “good” according to you?
Ha, now your going to get me in trouble with that question. i guess that depends on whether we are talking my art or art in general. My art must feel and make others feel. It must evoke my thoughts and emotions at the time and meet the vision i saw in its inception. As a person who has spent a great deal of time standing mere inches away from great master works, I guess if a piece doesn’t make me believe that the artist was truly invested in the piece, then to me it;s not very good. I’ve seen one line sketches that evoke more thought and emotion than perfectly rendered photo realistic pieces. I’ve said it before and I stand by my words. Just because someone knows how to paint doesn’t make them a great painter.
On your blog’s The Journey section, you describe yourself as having a zen attitude. Where does this perspective come from?
When I was a very young boy i was raised in the desert and the at the age of 3, I moved to the country. During those times, I spent a lot of time by myself thinking and listening to others speak. I watched the patterns and motions of the world and nature and felt as though i understood. I kept most of these thoughts to myself until I started having very in depth conversations about biblical theology with one of my aunts. At the age of eight when my life as I had grown used to it changed a great deal.
I started taking Akido at American States Karate *1978 before we moved *prior to the divorce I was getting in fights with much older boys and as you can imagine getting my ass kicked, so when we moved I wanted to take boxing as a form of self defense. Thankful nobody thought it was a good age to start getting punched in the face, so Akido it was. In the summers when I was home from school and my father was at work I would basically live at the dojo. It’s at the dojo I really started to understand the commonality that I had witnessed as a very young boy in the desert and learned in my biblical conversations. See, at eight when you tell a child to be the energy of motion or to imagine evading by simply not being in path of a strike, then that’s what they believe. It never crossed my mind that I should tie physical limitations into anything. So, to the question now that you know where the answer comes from. Zen: the perspective of zen comes simply from a state of acceptance and understanding of the universe and the things in it.
Which characteristics in personality, work ethic and/or perspective on life do you think writers and painters share?
To me, I believe that both writers and painter share a desire to express emotion and to share that experience with others. Yet, in the same breath, I don’t paint or write for other people. Painting and writing for me is like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker. Not to say I’m explosive in anyway, I’m a highly calm person, but creatively, my juices run full steam 24/7. Just because I like to stir the pot a little, I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. There is next to no premeditation in my writing. When its time to write, I start writing and with any luck my voice software will catch enough of it or my fingers will hunt and peck quickly enough to get it all down.
Thank you so much, Benjamin, for taking the time to share your thoughts and story for this interview with me. – connie n. w.
If you want to learn more about Benjamin, you can visit the websites below.
Benjamin M. Prewitt’s official website: benjaminprewitt.com
Artists Statement: http://wp.me/P2ASdI-27
Press Release 2013: http://wp.me/P2ASdI-4Hz
Events page: http://wp.me/P2ASdI-4Nz