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Back to Some of My Favorite Artists

(An article from the Wetumpka Herald on February 21, 2002, written by Peggy Blackburn, Associate Editor)

Drawing has been second nature to Bill Waits for as long as he can remember.  And the 74-year-old's innate talent received acclaim - and a blue ribbon - for his "Union Station" entry in this year's Elmore County Art Guild Winter Show.  "It's kind of like breathing for me - I've been drawing all of my life," Waits said.  "I remember when I was about eight ... in second grade ... I drew a World War I fighter from a three-quarters rear perspective."  Perspective plays a large role in all of Waits' works - including his winning "Union Station" pen and ink creation.  the piece is executed from the viewpoint of a train rolling along the tracks into the historic Montgomery landmark.  "Union Station was the center of excitement in Montgomery when I was young," he said.  "In those days, some people had cars, but trains were still the main mode of transportation.  "I imagined myself at about the height of this ceiling to get a broad view of it (Union Station)," Waits explained as he waved upward in the old downtown Wetumpka Post Office.  "The perspective is that of a soldier coming home from the war.  There are no photos of it from that angle," he continued.  "Eighty to ninety percent of the drawing is from memory - and I made several trips to the station to look at it while I was working."

Waits said most of his works are created in the same fashion - working principally from memory - and I made several trips to the station to look at it while I was working."  Waits said most of his works are created in the same fashion - working principally from memory.  And, outside of his love of art for itself, he confided another reason for his efforts - "to leave something for posterity."  Two other very recognizable subjects of his pen have been the USS Alabama and the Titanic.  His rendering of the Alabama is displayed on the battleship in Mobile.  Prints of that piece have been produced and sold, and Waits noted that he's also had prints of the Union Station work made for sale.  "Most of my drawings involve trains, boats, and planes," he commented.  "I guess I'm kind of hung up on transportation."

Despite his abiding passion for art, Waits didn't have much time to devote to it until recent years.  A retired Presbyterian preacher, he spent much of his life tending to the spiritual needs of his various congregations.  "I was in Washington for 31 years," he said.  "My main interest during my ministry was helping young people during the Vietnam War, and while I was in Washington, I bought 11 school buses.  That was my main ministry for 25 years.  "And I was the associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church here in Wetumpka for one year," continued Waits.  "I was so busy night and day while I was an active minister that I didn't have time for art."

And his intricate, detailed pen and ink works are a very time-consuming proposition.  Most take approximately three months to complete.  About 10 years ago, Waits joined the Elmore County Art Guild and has been actively working ever since.  "They're all wonderful people," he said.  "And I'm very grateful to receive this award."


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