There's Beauty in Everything
"I didn't have any money or any material so I decided to paint on whatever I could," said Willie Weaver-Bey.
Willie spent 40 years in prison over things dealing with drugs. To stay out of trouble Willie decided to learn how to paint.
"I never thought I would be an artist."
While in jail, Willie watched his friend paint for over a year until his friend became annoyed and gave Willie a piece of Frederick board, five primary colors, and some old paint brushes.
Prison helped Willie get back on the right track. He admits if he wasn't in jail, in his younger days, he might of been killed on the streets.
The most Willie's made from one of his pieces was $10,000 and he's only been out of prison for 18 months.
"It's been an exciting ride," he said. "I'm still growing, I'm still painting."
He's painted over 10,000 items and has been featured in the Shepherd Express, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, TMJ4 and more.
Willie was given $100, a bus ticket, and was sent on his way once he was released from jail. From homeless to owning his own home, Willie is a joyous person who believes in doing whatever you love in life.
He was able to get on his feet because Tim John paid to get five of Willie's pieces of artwork framed and Fred Robinson framed them. Since that day, Willie was always prepared with framed work to take to events to be sold.
Willie bought an old van with some of the money he was making, which became his new home. Thanks to his talent, he was able to make a lot more money to begin to live better.
Willie has eight children, that he knows of, and he keeps in touch with all of them. He couldn't be there for them because of his time spent in jail, but now he talks to them whenever he gets the chance.
"It's a good feeling," Willie said. "We're beginning to build a beautiful relationship."
Because of painting, Willie was able to occupy his time more than the other prisoners. He knew he didn't want to die over something petty, so he stayed to himself.
"I saw a guy killed over a three-dollar radio," he said. "I knew I didn't want to be a statistic."
A national artist who will soon become a world artist.
Willie does have a lot of artwork but that doesn't mean he likes parting with them. Willie says he's even-handed in all of the mediums he uses: watercolor, pastel, acrylic and a few others.
You can also add Vietnam Era Veteran to Willie's resume. Ironically, one of Willie's most known pieces is of a veteran.
"The eyes were so compelling I had to paint the picture." he said. "It makes a powerful statement."