I remember the day I found that I could draw pictures that my classmates said were good. It was in Mrs. Van Pelt’s second grade class and my buddy, Ronnie Hamilton had just finished drawing a battle scene from WWII complete with airplanes, tanks and infantry. I thought, “I’d like to do that.” So I tried it and found out I was really pretty good at it. I wasn’t good at sports and was just an average student, so it was rewarding to find that I was good at something and that it was fun! In sixth grade I did a drawing of Michael Landon from the movie, “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” which was selected to hang in the citywide art show at our local recreation center. That was a needed ego boost for a kid that wasn’t good at much. In junior high I took a few Saturday art classes at the Boy’s Club, but that was mostly simple charcoal sketching without much in the way of guidance so I soon lost interest in continuing. Then about that time I discovered the three G’s…girls, guitars and girls. And drawing just sort of faded into the past. By high school it was guitars, guitars and guitars and that was the beginning of thousands of gigs with a folk trio as art faded even farther into the past.
Fast forward to 1969 when I got a job with a sign company in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I was playing the clubs at night and working making signage during the day. It was there that my knack for drawing came back to the fore. The company I worked for specialized in hand carved wooden signage. I did renderings of signs for potential customers and the full size patterns to construct them. Over the years that led to designing signage for two of the largest sign companies on the east coast. Along the way I did a few pieces to hang on my own walls. I was still performing music on a regular basis, which eventually became my sole source of income. Over the years I have done the artwork for several of my CD’s. But that was as far as my art went until the Covid shutdown descended on us all.
After about three months of almost non-stop songwriting, one morning I dug out a sketchbook and began to draw my granddaddy’s old Case pocketknife. Just for fun I put it up on Facebook and someone asked if it was for sale. That opened the floodgates and my visual art has become as big a part of my life as my music and storytelling. It has taken me a lifetime to rediscover that joy I found back there in Mrs. Van Pelt’s second grade classroom and then lost for so many years. Now I can’t imagine my life without it. I hope you all have something in your lives that bring you such joy.