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Needmore artist stays close to home

July 11, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

NEEDMORE, Pa. - Stand in the intersection of Pa. 655 and U.S. 522, and you won't be able to count more than two or three houses in any direction before the landscape returns to farmland.

You're smack in the middle of downtown Needmore, Pa., literally a wide spot in the road with a few houses on the side.

It's where Chris Hill, 24, a rising artist and Needmore native, wants to make his mark on the world.

Hill's work is seen every week by readers of the Fulton News, the county's weekly newspaper. He does a pen and ink drawing of the person chosen for the paper's Fulton County Profile series.

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He's turned down offers for illustrating jobs with major ad agencies in New York City and Chicago. He said he wants to stay home.

"I got tired of city living when I was in Pittsburgh. I love the outdoors and wildlife," he said.

He earned an associate's degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he was top of his class, he said.

He also turned down an offer from Disney in Florida as an animator or background painter. The starting salary was $40,000, but he felt the environment was too controlling.

"I didn't like the way they do things. Everything is Disney. You lose your individual style. They teach you their way and you have to sign a 12-year contract," he said.

Hill's heroes are artists Howard Terping, Carl Brenders and Bev Doolittle. Like them, his favorite subjects to paint are wildlife and Native Americans.

Hill said he will visit the West someday. Meanwhile he paints from old photographs and stuffed and mounted animals.

He paints with oils, acrylics, water colors, pen and ink and color pencils.

He's trying to sell more prints of his work, enough to cut back on his freelance work, he said.

"Everybody in Fulton County knows my work, but it's hard to sell them outside," he said.

So far, three of his paintings, a redtail hawk feeding her young, a pair of foxes and an Indian have been turned into prints. They are sold from his own studio in Needmore, at galleries in Scotland, Pa., and Carlisle, Pa., and at art shows.

He supplements his income by painting signs, artwork on vehicles and commission work such as portraits. He also does computer graphics and illustrations for T-shirts, "and anything else I can think of," he said.

A new venture is etching artwork on gravestones. He does about five a month for a local monument company.

Hill's mother, Verla Hill, Needmore's postmaster, said her son has wanted to be an artist ever since he started school. Even before that, she said, he could be found in a corner with stacks of magazines and books trying to draw what he was seeing on paper.

"He never drew on the wall," she said.

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