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Musician to showcase visual skills at HAAC
Justin Longs painting, titled A Moment of Reflection is among many that will be on display at the Hinesville Area Arts Council during Longs exhibition, which starts Jan. 3. - photo by Photo provided.

A local musician will showcase his skills in a different medium when the Hinesville Area Arts Council opens his acrylic painting exhibition Jan. 3.
Hinesville resident Justin Long began pursuing his latent painting interest about a year ago after he was laid off from Lockheed Martin, but he now plans to display about 25 works ranging from 12-inches squared to 36-by-48-inches.
“I have friends that paint and I’ve always admired painting. I’ve just never had the urge to try my own until last February … it just started eating at me, and I just decided to borrow some paints and a brush and give it a try,” said Long, who also is a singer-songwriter and guitar player in Dreamland Express. He also played Col. Mustard in the Liberty Theatre Company’s fall 2012 production of “Clue: The Musical!”
“I definitely believe in experimenting and trying things in life … I think being afraid of failure probably keeps a great many people from trying to do something … there’s way more to life than going to work and mowing the grass,” he said. “Getting laid off freed up the time for me to find the painting thing. If I hadn’t lost my job, I never would have tried it.”
The Hinesville Area Arts Council will hold a reception for the show from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday at its 102 Commerce St. gallery.
“Justin is another extremely talented local artist who doesn’t give himself nearly enough credit for how good he is,” HAAC Chairwoman Leah Poole said. “We are so happy at the HAAC to be able to recognize local artists and their hidden assets and share those with the entire community.”
The artist, who moved to Hinesville on an Army assignment in 1996 and has remained since his service ended in 1999, received some training through the council’s classes.
Before reaching out to the council, he took on his first work: a sunset over the ocean, with just a sun sinking down over the water.  
“I’ve been fascinated with the sun most of my life, and that just seemed like a logical place to start,” he said. “My hope is to pass on a sense of serenity, or inner peace, to those who take a moment to look at them; that for just a minute they can feel the stillness inside that I try to present in my paintings.”
Since venturing into painting, Long said he’s received great support from those within the arts council. He even was one of the core artists behind the council’s community mural unveiled in September.  
Arts instructor Ashley Cuevas is his primary instructor and is quick with support, feedback and tips for improvement.  
“And that means a lot to me,” Long said. “She has a master’s degree in art, so that’s the real deal as far as I’m concerned.
“I’ve had a few people mention that it inspires them to branch out a little bit, and that makes me feel good … a year ago, I wasn’t doing any of this, and people know that,” he said.  
Long said he’s unsure what genre his work would fall into, but he has done several landscapes from both imagination and pictures. He’s also fascinated with Kokopelli — typical for someone with an Oklahoma upbringing, though Long said he did not discover the southwest deity until he moved to Georgia.
As for what the journey brings, Long said despite some challenges it’s been an “awesome year.”
“I’m totally ignorant when it comes to art. I don’t know all the terms that I’m supposed to know, … I really don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m having fun with it — I know that — not knowing the rules kind of allows me to do what I want to do,” Long said.

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