Local man turns lifetime hobby into profession

August 16, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - From the time he was a child, Bill Davis liked to draw. As an adult he found a way to make a living at it.

An artist and owner of Country Gallery at 12931 Bradbury Ave. in Smithsburg, Davis also does custom framing and restoration work. And for the past couple of years, he has been giving art classes at his studio, which is upstairs in the gallery.

Born in Downsville, Davis said he began his artistic odyssey at the age of 5.

"Art was always a big part of my young life," Davis said.

Though there were no art classes in his elementary school, a sixth-grade teacher would permit students to illustrate their book reports.

Following graduation from Williamsport High School, Davis joined the U.S. Army. After breaking his ankle in a parachute jump, Davis spent a year in the hospital, nine months of that with his leg in a cast.


He spent some of that time doing artwork.

Davis took a correspondence art course, and later applied for a job at Potomac Edison in the drafting department. He was the utility company's illustrator for about 30 years.

In addition to the usual advertisement art work, Davis said he drew a caricature of each Potomac Edison retiree and gave it to them as a keepsake.

He added the shop to his home in the 1980s.

Among some of his more memorable works were two 50-foot wall murals at the American Legion Post in Williamsport depicting "A Day in the Life of the C&O Canal," which he completed in six sections in the 1980s.

"It was certainly the biggest job I've ever done," Davis said.

A couple of years ago, Davis painted eight murals for a Washington County businessman. Then, in 2006, Davis had one of his more unusual assignments.

"I got a telephone call, and my caller ID said it was a sheriff calling me from Texas," Davis said.

The sheriff said he wanted Davis to do some caricature art for him.

"I asked him how he knew of me, and he said he Googled me after seeing some of my work at a convention," Davis said.

Davis ended up doing two commissioned caricatures for the sheriff.

"It was an experience," he said.

Davis is working with a group of Civil War re-enactors who want a painting of a group of soldiers fording the Potomac River at Shepherdstown, W.Va.

And he was putting the finishing touches on a portrait of Maryland Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Davis also writes music and plays and teaches the banjo. Self-taught, he played professionally in his younger days.

He and his wife, Pat, have one daughter, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Davis, 70, said he feels good and attributes that to his attitude.

"I can hardly wait to get up and get started each day," Davis said.

Class info

Davis will begin two separate sessions of art classes on Sept. 17 and 18.

The classes run for eight weeks, with one class meeting on Mondays and the others on Tuesdays. Classes are from 1 to 3 p.m. either day.

Students purchase their own supplies, whether they are taking drawing or oil classes. Davis supplies the easels, palettes and chairs. The studio can accommodate seven students per class.

Cost is $15 per session.

More information can be obtained by calling Davis at 301-824-6072.

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