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Painting peace: Berea man finds solace in painting rural Kentucky

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 10:26:58-04

BEREA, Ky. (LEX 18) — If you've ever looked for some extra peace or tranquility, maybe you find it in the great outdoors or through art.

What if you combine the two and paint outside? A man in Madison County travels to hidden gems throughout our state in search of some peace and his next masterpiece.

"I would paint indoors and different things I took pictures of and I would kind of look longingly and think 'wow I wish I was outside,'" says Jon Gaddis.

He travels to different parts of rural Kentucky, sets up shop, and begins to paint whatever he sees.

"Yeah, what I'm doing right now I do a lot of Kentucky subjects," he says. "Anything that strikes me. I remember driving down the road and seeing this barn and this barn quilt."

All Jon needs is a subject and all you hear — a golden silence.

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"Just being out and about in these areas, I felt passionate about them," he says. "Nothing bad is going on if you're behind a canvas outdoors. You're just kind of focused on the one thing."

He's able to focus on anything but three 12-hour shifts as a paramedic. He's able to get lost in tranquility in a place of healing.

"I just lost my mom," he says. "I'm going through a divorce right now. I really took to the canvas. It's a way to refocus everything."

Each stroke can't entirely brush away the pain and hurt — even recovering from three herniated discs.

"Even if you do injure your back and suddenly your world is closed off — much smaller than it used to be — you can still find reprieve and comfort," he says.

Putting peace to print, can't be underestimated.

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"Painting does teach you how to see the world differently," Jon says.

That has become his mission — to travel our state and show its beauty one stroke at a time.

"You know when somebody passes, or this or that, you think a lot about life and death and your own mortality," he says. "So I envisioned myself as an old man talking to myself and I had the thought of well you always were artsy... did you ever do anything with that? So the thought came to be; I should give it a shot."

Life comes in waves. Even in dark times, he's still making his way into his own light.

"Life is short," he says. "Very short. You never know what's going to happen."

In the great outdoors, Jon puts his best brush forward. He paints the beauty of our state and more importantly, the beauty of life.

"Hopefully, I can get my life worked out and start a family of my own... hopefully get my kids interested in something like this," he says. " — To appreciate something like this."

If you want to see his work, you can click here.