Q&A: Painter Samantha Bennett

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

As an infant, Samantha Bennett nearly died from a bacterial infection. Years later, the local painter lost her newborn son. Throughout her life, though, things that didn't kill her made her stronger. Bennett shared more about turning tragedy into something beautiful to share with the world.

I had bacterial meningitis when I was nine months old. Basically how it works is that your skin kind of comes off. The bacteria gets in your bloodstream. I had fingers amputated. I've always had feet issues. I've had plastic surgery throughout my entire life on my face.

My mom was always so thankful that I survived. She raised me with that mentality. I never have been upset, because in the end I was able to draw. I started drawing to pass time when I was recovering in the hospital.

The best advice I've ever received is to make the most out of every opportunity that you have.

When my husband and I were living in Maryland, I had a high-risk pregnancy. I was in the hospital on bed rest for about 11 weeks, and the baby didn't make it. He survived two days. His name was Jonas.

T hey put butterflies on people's door s to let the hospital staff coming in k now that a baby had passed away. I started this series of butterfly portraits. At first, it was dedicated to infant loss and miscarriage, because that was all the people I seemed to represent. After that, it kind of evolved to where people who had lost somebody were contacting me to paint for them.

Jonas only survived for two days, but the impact has been crazy. Now I do paintings for people all over the country. I get to create art for everybody that's lost somebody.

People expect me to do more than just painting a photograph. To get the painting right is to make sure I am in touch with the story. I have been taking the stories to heart, every single story. If I weren't affected by it, I probably wouldn't be able to capture them.

Things in my day that make me happy are waking up with my kids and my husband. I try to wake up every day with a smile on my face - which sucks for my husband, who's not a morning person.

Three things I can't live without are music, my family and food.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at jross@columbusalive.com.

Name: Samantha Bennett

Age: 35

Day job: Painter

Neighborhood: Gahanna

Hometown: Newark

Web: paintersam.com

Last Words

Last thing you bought: Art supplies

Last thing you gave away: Pile of clothes to Goodwill

Last song you listened to: Mary Lou Lord on Pandora

Last great meal you ate: Donatos Pizza

Last place you traveled: Pensacola, Florida