Passion for Painting
R. Benjamin Jones Grand Finale Art Show at HCC
Artist R. Benjamin Jones spends hours each day doing what he loves -- orchestrating visual symphonies to the accompaniment of classical music in his peaceful Washington County, Md. studio. With brushes in hand, Ben meticulously blends acrylic pigments to create magical, colorful compositions from carefully wrought pencil studies, capturing moments of transcending beauty personally witnessed while traveling with his wife and partner Becky.
“Everything I paint is something I’ve seen. It’s so important to be aware. That’s how I get inspiration. Something comes into me, I think about how to present it visually to people so they can see it through my eyes, and it comes out as a painting. It’s quite enjoyable,” Ben explains. “I’ve always loved art. My dad would draw doodles and I would draw with him. I kept going with it and my teachers encouraged me,” he continues.
Ben studied at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore for a year, but set his art aside to study ministry. “I didn’t feel I could make a living through art.” After graduating University of Maryland and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Ben became pastor at Hagerstown’s Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Ben continued painting as a hobby until he began winning prizes in Annual Cumberland Valley Artists exhibitions. “That was a turning point that encouraged me to try making a living as a full-time painter.” In 1979, he left full-time ministry to pursue his painting passion as a career. His wife Becky coordinates his showings and personally frames Ben’s artwork in her framing studio.
Since then Ben has grown his reputation as a renowned painter with a vast catalog of visual imagery that depicts realistic, gentle beauty, including pastoral Washington and Lancaster county farms and landscapes, majestic country scenes from Giverny, Tuscany, Florence and England’s Lakes District; New England and Chesapeake Bay nautical life; still-life tableaus, and delicate flowers. His works have wide-reaching appeal and are greatly sought by art collectors from around the world.
Ben also spent many years as a devoted educator at St. James School and arts appreciation adjunct professor at Hagerstown Community College (HCC).
On Friday, November 20, the HCC Foundation Board hosts a Grand Finale reception and showing of Ben’s paintings at The Kepler Center. Ben and his wife Becky, a dedicated HCC Foundation Board member, have coordinated and participated in 13 art exhibition shows since 1995 to benefit HCC’s Foundation scholarship endowment funds. To date, these art shows have raised over $300,000 for the college, according to Stacey Lowman, Director of College Advancement at HCC.
“Ben and Becky are both gems within the HCC community. We greatly appreciate their dedication and commitment to HCC and our students through many means, from Ben’s teaching and art shows to Becky’s valuable participation with fundraising coordination as part of our Foundation Board. Their combined efforts have provided funds to support students across our campus as well as many HCC capital projects. This event is a culmination that acknowledges the great impact their efforts have had within our community. Ben and Becky are part of HCC’s fabric in so many ways. This grand finale event gives us opportunity to thank them for their abundant generosity through the years,” Stacey shares.
Ben and Becky receive great satisfaction from supporting HCC. “It makes us feel good to give to the students,” shares Ben. “Thousands of students come to campus every week. Many need extra help to achieve what they want to do,” explains Becky. “The shows have raised awareness of HCC and the importance of education to the community. With an education, HCC students can help create a better community.”
Jane Schmidt is a freelance writer living in Hagerstown, Md. who specializes in writing feature stories, advertising/marketing copy and business profiles.