LUMBERTON — Artist Burritt “Bucky” Benson III is on a mission to spread inspirational scripture through his art.
He hopes to do so by blowing up his paintings into 14-by-48 foot billboards and posting them all around the country. He wants to have his first billboard up this year.
“My goal is to do one unique billboard painting with God’s word and my art in all 50 states, then the world,” Benson, 50, wrote in his blog.
His first painting will carry the Bible verse Proverbs 3:6 — “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.“ The art displays a young girl with a wild mess of hair that will dominate the image. The chaos and colors displayed in the painting are meant to draw the attention of by-passers.
“I want to be able to attract people,” Benson said. “I want them to look and say ‘What is that?’”
The first billboard will go up in Charlotte, Benson said. Billboards can range from $1,500 to $4,000 in most small- to mid-size U.S. cities, though it can dip as low as $250 in rural areas, according to fitsmallbusiness.com.
Benson, a Lumberton native, studied drawing throughout his childhood, high school and college.
Knowing he was returning after college to work in the family construction company, Benson found himself at a crossroads on whether or not to continue his education in business, take over the family construction company, Benson Construction, or focus on art. Luckily, Benson had a father who supported his dreams.
“He just asked me if I was doing anything in the world, what would I be doing to be happy,” he said.
Benson answered “working on his art.” His father said, “Take off.”
In 2004, Benson took off to find the painter inside him.
Bucky studied painting and digital arts at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke under professors Tarleton Blackwell and John Antoine Labadie.
“I went over to Pembroke and took an advanced oil painting class under Tarleton Blackwell,” he said. “And it was his last semester teaching.”
He said the teacher “changed him,” and brought out what was hidden inside.
“My drawings were just doodles and I didn’t know how to paint them,” he said. “He answered all my questions, and I had so many.”
In 2011, his painting titled “Winning” was showcased at the State of the Art/Art of the State exhibition at Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington. In 2012, Benson contributed an original three-dimensional piece of art to the North Carolina Cow Parade, which was then exhibited at the Ackland Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Benson’s “cow” art is now part of the permanent collection at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.
In August 2013, his paintings were featured in The Lakeview International Journal of Literature & Arts, Vol. 1, No. 2. In 2014, Benson was commissioned to create original art for the NBC Sports Network Charlotte studio where “NASCAR America” is produced.
Benson said he struggled through the years to find a purpose for his art. He never really knew what his art was about, he said. With his billboard plan, he found that purpose.
“I just feel like the Lord told me to paint what I’m sketching,” he said.
One can find patterns, graffiti, African and Australian themes and even cartoons in Benson’s art.
Benson describes his art as “spontaneous, abstract doodles,” and “happenstance.”
“I’m just spontaneous with my markings. It just kind of builds itself, “ he said.
His paintings were once more political, but he wants to step away from that and focus more on the positive.
Melvin Morris, a mixed media artist and owner of Inner Peace Gallery in Lumberton, described Benson’s painting as being “electric.”
“The intensity of his work is what captures me,” Morris said.
Benson was one of the first artists to show at Inner Peace Gallery, and he has future plans with Morris.
It usually takes Benson about two months to finish high-detailed paintings, but he works on multiple pieces at the same time.
“I’ve got about 30 going right now,” Benson said. “I jump around.”
He keeps up with all of the painting by writing notes on each painting.
“The great thing about it is I wake up and if I walk in there and I see something and I want to change it from something that I had thought I wanted to do, it’s OK,” he said. “It changes.”
Benson’s paintings can be seen on his his website, Bebart.com.
“I want to draw them closer,” he said. “I want them to see detail and wonder and beauty and all that is there.”
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 910-416-5865.