Billy Roper has said, “I was born blessedly poor.” This simple statement embodies his early hardships and the demons he has battled in a lifetime of struggle to fulfill his dream of being an artist. But being an artist was more than a dream to him. It was a deep and nagging need. In his words, “It was like a hound dog chasin’ chickens. I had to draw and paint, but I didn’t know how.” “Blessedly poor” also speaks of the strength and insight he has gained from his tribulations so that he might conclude:
All that stuff that happened down through the years, when I look back on it now, if I was gonna be an artist, that was the price for it. That’s how you get to this point–comin’ through that–it purifies your soul. If you want to understand somebody else’s pain, it is a good idea that you have had one just like it. The pains I have not experienced are gettin’ less and less.
The wisdom to see and understand both the positives and negatives of life nurtures the profound lessons and sermons that he pours into imaginative and beautifully conceived paintings, skillful carvings that exude reverence for natural wood, and marble sculptures that approach the classical in theme and design. Susan Wright, a friend and collector, has said to him, “You have always spoken to my soul.”
Billy Roper’s journey from poverty to public acclaim is an inspiring story with lessons for all who seek to live wisely and humanely, and the story is accompanied by thirty-nine colorful examples of the work that comprises his artistic vision.