A Del City man credits art with putting setting him straight and putting him on a path to success.
Dante Anderson lives at the City Rescue Mission. He suffers from bipolar disorder and abused drugs while living on the streets before taking steps to get sober. Anderson, 34, said that his art and God are now the driving forces behind his efforts to follow his passion and make it as an artist.
"The eyes, they show me everything, pain, or anything that's going on with a particular individual," said Anderson. "I can see it, the windows into the soul, so I can see everything that's kind of going on."
Anderson usually spends up the 10 hours every day drawing and reflecting on his life. His passion for art started when he was a young boy.
"When I was five, you know, watching cartoons and stuff I wanted to draw, but I was drawing shapes and I wanted to draw a perfect circle without, you know, using a coke can."
Teachers noticed Anderson's talent at a young age and he worked hard at it through high school, but navigating life did not come easy. Anderson said that his bipolar disorder forced him into a dark place. He became isolated and eventually stopped drawing.
"I was battling with not taking the medicine, using marijuana or whatever and just trying to use that to cope, just try to get out," he said.
Anderson now calls the City Rescue Mission home. He recently completed their Bridge to Life program. It consists of 10 months of intense work to kick drug habits and focus on successful changes.
"I just love them. They've been a great motivation because they see something in me that I didn't see in myself."
It was during this time that Anderson rediscovered his love of art.
"One day I figured, pick up the pencil, let's see if I can still do this," recalled Anderson.
Creating portraits for the Oklahoma City Thunder is Anderson's biggest break so far. He presented the portraits to the team at a Thanksgiving even in November. That was just a start. A set of six pieces recently sold at a fundraiser auction for $12,000.
Anderson said that he owes a lot to art. In a way, it helped turn his life around. He believes his talent is from God and he now uses it as a tool to stay clean.
"It just takes me to a world where I can just kind of be at peace."