Barry Sponder knew nothing about art, except that he thought he didn’t know how to make it. But a vivid dream inspired him to try. His work, PTSD 1972, is part of Shaped by Service, an art exhibit featuring the works of veterans, service members and military families.

The exhibit is now running at ArtWorks Gallery, 69 Main St., Ware. Shaped by Service is organized by The Brookfield Institute, which works to build resilience in veterans and military families to combat the causes and impacts of veteran suicide. The exhibit is sponsored by Monson Savings Bank.

Shaped by Service runs through Nov. 30. A free artist reception is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13, from 5-7 p.m. at the gallery. There are 14 artists with 26 works in the exhibit, which includes sculptures, acrylic paintings, pencil drawings, oil paintings, and photography. Regular gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Sponder said the exhibit was the nudge he needed to finish his painting, which has since sold. He said he wouldn’t have hung the emotion-laden work in his own house, so he’s glad it will be seen by others. The painting has multiple scenes, all with intriguing details and stories.

For example, the top panel is Escher-inspired and includes planes flying both ways, representing, Sponder said, “the first time I went on a mission and returning to base, how I felt overwhelming pride and safety when I saw our flag flying there.” The background is an Asian city, possibly Bangkok or Tokyo, both places Sponder lived during his service in the U.S. Air Force. He served from 1968 to 1972, maintaining and repairing equipment used, in part, to measure radiation from aboveground nuclear tests.

Sponder, 75, first conceived of the painting in a liminal dream and started it while working with Steven Jones at the Warrior’s Art Room in Westfield, MA. Sponder had started looking into Dream Yoga with noted instructor, Andrew Holececk, as a way to help with his insomnia, but soon learned how to have dreams in which he can wake up and act — and react — to what’s happening in the dream. In one dream, he said, he was on an island and a monster was approaching. He was able to turn himself to face the monster, which turned into worms that ran away. With guidance, he has been able work through fears, trauma and anxieties in his dreams, while allowing him to write, draw and paint what he experiences.

Recently, he participated in an IONs (Institute of Noetic Science) research study with about 50 other veterans examining the use of lucid dreaming to alleviate stress and PTSD anxiety. The study was led by Charlie Morley, a teacher of lucid dream for 20 years and the author of Wake Up To Sleep. The study and what Sponder and his fellow veterans learned from it was another motivation to complete the painting for this exhibition