Painter captures homeless life, hope with his art

- An artist who creates lifelike portraits with his paintbrush is bringing much-needed attention to a population usually ignored by the community.

Ben Love paints portraits of Bradenton's homeless. 

"I just like the energy and the feelings," he explained. "The  faces, the eyes and the emotions. I get emotions from these things a lot."

Whether they are sleeping under a tree, pushing a cart or sitting with a backpack, his subject matter is one most people stray away from.

However, Love doesn't ignore them. He's inspired by them. 

"Some of these people aren't on drugs, some of them aren't mental. They just - the bottom fell out of their life and this is just where they ended up. Sometimes it's not bad," he explained.

Love said he finds his inspiration for his paintings on the streets of Bradenton - because they're the same streets on which he and his wife once lived.

"After being homeless and forgotten about, I understand. I really do. Whether it is family that forgets you, for whatever reason; friends. People like to add a whole lot of connotations on the homeless," he said.

He and his wife Jacki were homeless on-and-off for five years. He admits they didn't make the best decisions at times, but they fought to survive.

Survival is the character he paints.

"He really gives dignity to these people. That is what is important to him. They are all so truly from his heart," Jacki Love said.

He hopes his paintings make people look past what they seen on the streets and help them realize the person down on their luck is still a person.

"I just try to make you give something. Just try and see them a different way," said Love. 

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