TROY — The road to acknowledgment as an artist has been a long and winding, sometimes rocky, road for Ben Anderson.
The congenial Anderson has, at varying points in his 47 years, found himself residing in the South or moving around the Miami Valley, living the life of a soldier then readjusting to civilian life, working full-time or part-time, or like many victims of a lagging economy, seeking employment.
Born in Dayton, Anderson lived much of his childhood in Melbourne, Fla., followed by an adolescence spent shuttling back and forth between the two cities. He attended Wayne High School in Huber Heights, as well as in Melbourne, and did a stint in the U.S. Army until an injury led to a general discharge under honorable conditions after just nine months.
With his artist bent, it made sense for Anderson to study Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) at Keiser College of Technology in Melbourne, but, he said, “I’d always known I was naturally talented at artwork, so my whole life, I kind of steered toward practical jobs.”
Ultimately, it was the quality of life in Ohio that led him back north, Anderson said.
“Something about this area that drew me back to the location.”
At one point, he was without a home, the result of a family dispute that left him with nowhere to turn.
“I lived in Troy for about three or four years,” Anderson said. “Before that, I was homeless. I was living in West Milton, then I moved to Piqua, then migrated to a homeless shelter in Dayton. I had some great friends in Troy who told me about a homeless shelter here and I ended up getting back on my feet.”
Now living in Troy again, Anderson finds himself getting more focused on his passion for creating.
“As I became older, I thought I would get back into doing artwork,” he said. “I got back into it in earnest about 2009.”
Anderson’s CAD training lends itself well to his work, as his media of choice is digital painting.
“I use a pen and stylus, just as you would use a paintbrush,” he said. “I try to paint in the same manner as some would do an oil painting.”
Getting serious about his work has begun to pay off, as Anderson recently had a piece, “Cindy Does Fallujah,” accepted in a veterans’ artwork exhibition titled “Art Inspired by the Front Lines,” at the Vern Riffe Center in Columbus. About 40 works are included in the exhibition, which runs through Nov. 13.
Anderson’s selected work is a study of contrasts, juxtaposing the innocent, towheaded “Brady Bunch” kid — “the youngest one in curls” — with a fierce war scene.
“I was listening to the news on CNN about the military actions going on in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, explaining what inspired the “Fallujah” piece. “I got the idea to combine Hollywood with the reality of war.”
Anderson is also inspired by faith.
“I try to put a positive influence in my work. I believe that as an artist, all inspiration comes from God above or your creator as you see him,” he said.
Previously, his work had only been shown locally in a juried exhibition at the Mayflower Arts Center, in which he won first place. In addition, he has done a few commissioned pieces.
Anderson admitted he initially didn’t realize the magnitude of what it meant to have his work displayed in the Riffe Gallery, “until I found out it was somewhat prestigious,” he said. “It made me feel like I was starting to get somewhere in my career.”
Anderson dreams of being able to work full-time as an artist and hopes to have his work exhibited in other shows.
“I would love to do this solely for a living,” he said. “I’d love for my art to be shown anywhere and everywhere; it doesn’t matter to me where it’s at, I would just like it out there so people can see it.”
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.