AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - An Austin artist is using his gift to give back to those less fortunate. Wiley Ross paints portraits of people experiencing homelessness and splits the profits with the person depicted.
Ross remembers what it was like living out of his car as a once struggling artist, before he started painting murals around the city. While working on a Willie Nelson mural on Trinity Street, he met some of the people experiencing homelessness that have become subjects in his portraits, but he wanted to do more to help people who need it.
So he decided to use his art as a means to help people get back on their feet.
Once a portrait of someone experiencing homelessness sells, he surprises them with half the profits.
His first subject, a downtown sketch artist named Art Randle, was stunned by the kind gesture. “My heart is blessed… He's doing a wonderful thing… A program like what he's doing, what he's done for me, will do the very same for them as well,” Randle said referencing others at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.
“It makes me feel good helping somebody and it truly is better to give than receive because the effect that it has on me, I'm just like, that's cool,” said Ross. Art used the money to buy a cellphone so he could stay in touch with Wiley and help get his own career off the ground.
Wiley is taking suggestions for future portraits. He can be contacted through his website.