Prattsville man finds natural beauty

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published January 20, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated January 18, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Jason Beard has won many state and national competitions with his artwork. Beard draws wildlife scenes, including deer and turkey, with pen and ink.

— Jason Beard of Prattsville, like many Arkansans, enjoys hunting in his free time, but unlike many Arkansans, he draws the wildlife that he loves to hunt.

“[I’ve been drawing] ever since I can remember,” Beard said. “Wildlife is my favorite thing to draw.”

Many of his drawings feature turkeys and deer that are hunted in Arkansas each spring and fall.

Of the thousands of drawings he’s done in his 36 years, Beard’s favorite drawing is of a wild turkey with a barn scene in the background. He said he draws portraits of people on occasion, but drawings of wildlife make up most of his art repertoire.

“I’ve always hunted and fished and enjoyed watching [wildlife]. I’ve got a passion for wildlife,” Beard said.

Turkey hunting is Beard’s favorite type of hunting.

“I like the springtime when everything is blooming and the birds are singing, and the turkeys are gobbling,” Beard said.

Sometimes when Beard is out hunting, he will see something that catches his eye, take a picture of it, then proceed to draw the thing that caught his eye.

One person that was influential in getting Beard into art was his middle school art teacher.

“He really put a lot of time into me and helped me and taught me a lot,” Beard said. “He told me that I needed to pursue something in art.”

Beard won a national scholarship when he was in the 10th grade, a full-tuition scholarship to any vocational school in the state. Aside from winning the scholarship, Beard has won various state and national competitions based on his artistic talent alone.

“I think the first competition I won was in like the third grade, and it was to design the Sheridan school T-shirts,” Beard said.

Beard has donated his art to local charities and benefits for individuals in need.

He is now a bronze sponsor for Ducks Unlimited, and his art is auctioned off at Ducks Unlimited banquets throughout the state and at events the American Cancer Society holds throughout the year.

“I’ve had some friends with cancer, and it makes it kind of special to help them out,” Beard said.

Beard said he would like to be an art teacher someday because he would like to “help kids out.”

Although Beard hasn’t made art his career, he said his drawings provide him with money to spend on things like vacations. His pen-and-ink drawings range from $400 to $1,000 for a custom drawing.

In October, he was the featured artist for the Gallery Walk in Downtown Hot Springs.

“[Being chosen for the Gallery Walk] made me feel good,” Beard said.

Beard’s wife, Tonya, and their two boys, Parker, 7, and Korbin, 7 months, take up most of his free time outside of his job at Parker Hannifin in Benton, so he said it is hard to find a lot of time to draw.

Beard said one of his drawings typically takes about a week to complete, but he’ll spend a few hours each day working on it, so he doesn’t get “burnt out” on doing the drawing.

With his children being so young, they are his priority right now, but Beard said that when they are older, he will probably have more time to spend on drawing.

“[A drawing] takes a lot of mental stress on you,” Beard said. “You’ve got your family hollering at you and your kids wanting to play. It’s hard to find time to put into a piece.”

Although his art has gotten a lot of attention, Beard doesn’t have a huge art studio in his home.

“I have an art table, but I prefer just sitting on the couch and getting my pad out there and working,” Beard said.

Beard’s family has always encouraged him to pursue his art, and he said his mother and father were the initial people in his life to help him with his artistic dreams.

“They supported me in the way of taking me to [art] competitions,” Beard said. “Both my mom and dad were always supportive of me.”

Beard said his oldest son, Parker, has already expressed an interest in art.

“He draws nearly every day, and he wants me to help him out,” Beard said. “He’ll say, ‘Dad, I want to be an artist.’”

Beard said he is working on setting up a website for his artwork and has sold some of his artwork on eBay.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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