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Austin Man Demonstrates 'The Essential Hugs Of Life'

Updated: Tuesday, December 10 2013, 09:24 AM CST

With each stroke of the paintbrush, Jared Dunten feels a little stronger.

"One of the things about painting for me, especially the big pieces, is it is very physical. I feel like I'm in a fight with somebody, between the canvas and me," he says.

More than a decade ago, a diving accident left Dunten paralyzed. Now, creating on canvas empowers him. He says, "There's something very human and physical about it."

One way advertising superstar Roy Spence finds strength is through hugs.

Spence recalls, "My daddy taught me two things: be kind to everyone you meet and everybody needs a hug!"

Shortly after Spence's dad died, he decided to put pen to paper and share the healing nature of hugs. "I kind of wrote it with this idea that there are some pretty serious secret powers of hugs," he says.

Spence's new book -- "The 10 Essential Hugs of Life" -- is a labor of love. A key part of spreading that love was choosing Dunten, an employee and friend, to illustrate it.

Spence smiles and says, "Every illustration in the book, he did. He's the best hugger in the world and he can't move his arms."

Dunten got tears in his eyes when he found out about Spence's compliment.

"I've never heard that. That's very nice of him to say," he says.

Dunten's paintings give each of the hugs their own personality, from the heart for hugging yourself to the broken chain for hugging your failures.

Dunten says hugging your failures is his favorite. "I would say it's kind of a springboard for my life after my accident. You know, it was a bad decision to jump in the river. I have to know that and make peace and go on from that."

When you look at Dunten, you might think he has problems, but Spence says he doesn't see it that way." He is going to paint himself out of that wheelchair. Part of this whole hugs thing is about hope, love and lifting each other up!"

By Judy Maggio

Austin Man Demonstrates 'The Essential Hugs Of Life'


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