Meet Benjamin West, a seven year old innkeepers’ son, the youngest of ten. Since a young age Benjamin has been raised as a Quaker. He was taught the scriptures and a healthy fear or reverence of God. Benjamin is a good boy, but when his dad finds out about one of his hobbies, Benjamin may be in trouble.
Benjamin loves to draw. One day Ben was left to babysit his niece, Sally, while his mother and sister went for a walk. He started sketching her face, and found that he was fairly good at it. His skill was unusual.
But his dad does not approve. Most painters in colonial America could not find good work consistently, and ended up poor, or even living on the streets. Ben’s dad doesn’t want that to happen to him. He also believes that making pictures is wrong. With just a glance at the second commandment, Benjamin’s hobby of painting is wrong.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” -Exodus 20:4-5a
Benjamin doesn’t want to stop painting, but will he have to face guilt for doing something against God’s law if he doesn’t? He needs to find a way to explain to his father why painting can honor God. Without his father’s blessing, Benjamin can’t get the proper education he needs to become the painter he wants to be.
Benjamin West is the star of a film telling about his life and work.