Jamaica Gleaner / Mandeville, Manchester:
When Benjamin Barrett, at the age of two, took to basic drawing and colouring, his parents could not have known that they had a child prodigy in their midst who would soon inspire them to unearth their own talents and build the artistic family brand.
Now nine years old, Benjamin said that it was the cartoon Peppa Pig that first inspired him to start playing with colours.
His father, Richard, added that Benjamin’s fascination with the cartoon Thomas & Friends had him trying tirelessly to draw the trains and other images, and so he showed him how to draw in 3D.
It wasn’t until around age four that they realised he had a real gift and thought to help him mould it.
“We spoke to an art teacher and got him into classes, but after a few classes, he kept asking for advanced work. He stopped taking the class after a while, but he would still draw and paint on printer paper and cartridge paper,” Richard shared.
Soon, Richard introduced little Benjamin to minicanvasses, and he developed his craft steadily and beautifully.
“I always knew I could do it. There were times when I felt tired or felt like I didn’t want to do it anymore, but I practised harder. I drew on everything I could find. I even drew on the back of receipts! For some of my pieces, I start with an eye then I move on to the nose, then lips, and I work to make the image as vivid as I can,” said Benjamin.
With such beautiful work and astonishing talent, Benjamin’s mother, Maria, knew that she had to give her son a platform by allowing him to enter the JCDC Competition.
“He entered, and the adjudicators just could not believe that he had done the pieces. Luckily, I used to video him painting, and I would ask him questions during the video about how he would arrive at the end result.”
EXPLORE THE CRAFT
Through Benjamin’s success, Maria, who had done a little drawing in her early adult years, decided to once again explore the craft, along with Richard, who has experience in technical drawing.
Even Benjamin’s little sister, Elizabeth, took to what became the family’s new pastime.
Having started with pencils, Benjamin moved on to pencil crayons, pastels, black charcoal, coloured charcoal, then acrylic.
Too many pieces from Benjamin and the family, collectively, to count, gave rise to a recent exhibition that hosted over 100 individuals at the Moorlands Estate Club House.
“We had over 60 pieces that were exhibited by the family. We had some pieces sold, and we had several orders. We now have people asking for an annual exhibition,” said Maria.
Benjamin, whose talent goes well beyond his years, is not sure that he wants to pursue art as a career but is extremely happy that he could have engaged his family in pursuing a passion and is eager to master the use of oil and explore other art forms.