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First-Time Contest Participant Wins Best of Show in 'Parental Love'

June 5, 2019



Perhaps a bit of wishful thinking entered the mind of Jim Bennett when he decided to paint a beach scene for the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre’s “Parental Love” exhibition.


It worked out well as Jim, a retired resident of Florissant, Mo., won Best of Show with his “Beach Expression” painting. It was his first foray into competition.


The scene depicts two women and two young children, one being held, as they stroll along a beach shoreline in wonderful outdoor conditions.


“It could be anywhere,” Jim said. “I just created a scene on the beach.”


 A boyhood trip to Florida with his parents and four brothers sparked Jim’s concept for the painting, although his “Sunshine State” experience wasn’t as pleasant as “Beach Expression.”


Jim recalled that the weather in Florida was cold, damp and miserable. A planned camping trip wound up being a stay in a hotel, and the family cut short its vacation and headed home.


Further tarnishing the Bennetts’ trip were mechanical issues with their Jeep Willys, although Jim points out that the vehicle performed fine once the family left Florida.


“We had all kinds of trouble,” Jim said, chuckling. “But when we started to come back, we didn’t have any problems, so I’m assuming the (Jeep) wanted to get back home.”


Jim was pleased with winning Best of Show. He said it was unexpected, however. “Parental Love” entries were to exhibit the bond between animals, birds, fish, humans, etc.


“You never know what to expect,” Jim said. “This was my first time. I always thought, ‘I’ve got to put something out there.’ But I didn’t really think I would win.”


Jim, who works with longtime artist Jerry Thomas at the Cultural Arts Centre, prefers to draw car illustrations, so painting a beach scene was a step outside his comfort zone.


Jim regularly watches videos of artists painting on YouTube, and when he saw the “Parental Love” competition scheduled for the Arts Centre, he decided to enter.


“I’m mystified by some of the things (painters) do,” Jim said. “When I saw (the “Parental Love” contest) coming here, I thought, ‘I’ll do that and see what happens.’”


Jim has experience in photography and film, commercial art, engineering and drawing. He estimated that his “Beach Expression” painting, which he completed in piecemeal fashion with music playing in the background, took about a month in actual time to complete.


“Sometimes I would just stop and then come back to it,” Jim said.