Laid off employee turns career around with oil paintings - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Clarkton, MO

Laid off employee turns career around with oil paintings

By CJ Cassidy

CLARKTON, MO (KFVS) - The poor economy leaves many folks across the Heartland looking for jobs, or wondering when the next round of layoffs could hit, so it's heartening to see someone who turned a tough situation around.

Tony Campbell is proof you shouldn't give up when your luck turns for the worse.  Now he's his own boss, and says he's living his dream.  You might call it a "stroke" of genius.

Four years after switching careers, the Clarkton artist talks about the bold choices he made that got him to where he is today.

"After high school I got a job in a factory, worked there 34 years - then they kicked me out -  basically shut the plant down," Campbell said.

That's when Campbell decided to turn to painting to get his hands on some green.

"Anytime you start anything new you look back and say 'Can I do this?' You question yourself. 'Are you good enough to do something?'" he said.

As it turned out, Campbell's wildlife creations and attention to detail had a market, especially at trade shows.

"They started buying, once you sell out, it's like golly that's not bad - beats the factory to pieces I can do this.  I enjoy it," he said.

Campbell's wife Vickie says she didn't buy into her husband's decision at first.

"I was scared," she said. "I wasn't sure we could make it with basically my income."

Now she's glad she supported him and says his career has even helped strengthen their marriage.

"We get to travel to different places, meet a lot of people, and the times we do go we stay it's just him and me. That's positive," she said.

As for Tony Campbell, he gets to spend more time observing the subjects of his oils, the sunsets outside his home, and his black lab named Vetter.  He knows at the end of the day, he's still bringing home the bacon.

"Anytime you do what you want to do, you are going to be much happier than having a job to make a paycheck," Campbell said. 

He makes his money by selling prints of his paintings and says he's keeping the originals so he can auction them off when he gets really famous someday.

He hopes other people who find themselves without a job remember anything's possible if you try hard enough.

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