Veteran finds solace in art therapy

Hannah Swayze • Nov 5, 2018 at 12:25 PM

It’s been about three years since U.S. Army veteran Brian Posey serendipitously stepped from a bus station and discovered The Warrior’s Canvas.

The state of his life wasn’t pretty. He had been accused of serious crimes and had sought treatment at the Mountain Home VA for psychological issues. He was no longer able to keep making money the way he did previously.

“I started wondering how I was going to pay the rent, because the police took all my equipment I was selling online. That’s how I earned my money. Now I had no electronics. So I started seeking out services at the VA,” Posey said.

Curious, he entered The Warrior’s Canvas, where he began talking to David Shields, its current CEO. The downtown art gallery and studio is a non-profit business that provides a community for veterans to engage in therapeutic art.

“He talked to me and said, ‘You know, you could try painting,’ and I said, ‘I know nothing; I know absolutely nothing.’ But then I came in, and all the art supplies and stuff were free for veterans, so I just came in and started playing,” said Posey.

Posey has now been volunteering regularly with The Warrior’s Canvas for two years. He helps run the studio, keeping up the space, making sales and such. Soon, he will teach his first class.

“Just happenstances,” he said about how he ended up at the studio. “There happened to be a bus stop right there on the blue route, and I just happened to go seek services and that’s how I connected with David.”

Posey has explored all kinds of art, starting by printing some of the stock photos he took a while back and putting them in the gallery. From there, he moved on to abstract painting, to spray paint and stencils and then to what he’s currently working on: galaxy painting that he taught himself to do in a style he learned from Youtube. He has also began creating vinyl stickers he sells in the gallery.

“I am all over the place,” Posey said, laughing.

The art gave Posey a way to escape for a while. He said he would just zone in on the task at hand and forget everything else.

In addition to picking up art in the past couple of years, Posey has developed an interest in business and has started to pursue an undergraduate degree at the American Military University, where he’s studying entrepreneurship, concentrating in small businesses.

“I think it’s given me some type of purpose,” he said. “It’s helping develop [my desire] to start businesses to want to develop more art.

“I want to get this place up and going better, get more veterans in, because no matter what, if the veterans come in and sell their art work, 30 percent goes to the gallery, 70 percent goes to them so not only does the gallery benefit, but the veterans themselves. It’s direct. So, the more artists we have the more traffic we can get in, the more sales [we make], it helps everybody all around.”

Posey extended the welcome mat to other veterans who might have an interest in art or the mission of The Warrior’s Canvas.

“Come on in. Talk to us. ... Like I said, I knew nothing about painting. Nothing. And yet, I’ve had pieces sell and some of these things here ... they’re abstract,” he said. “Abstract [art] is just whatever you make of it. It doesn’t have to be anything specific. it doesn’t have to be good.”

To learn more about The Warrior’s Canvas or to get involved, visit http://warriorscanvas.org or call (423) 232-7521. The Warrior’s Canvas is located at 320 East Main St.

Veterans in crisis can call the 24-hour veteran crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

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