Story by ROB CURRY, Assistant News Editor—
“Being an artist is a hand to mouth existence. It’s a feast of famine,” said Studio Painting Senior John Williams. He would know.
Williams is a non-traditional student who has been painting for decades.
“I have probably sold about 200 pieces over my lifetime. My first sold for $7.50 to one of my art teachers in Jr. High School.”
Now his paintings sell, depending on the size, from $250 to $1,500. “Most of my sales are word of mouth,” he said. “Many of my customers are doctors, lawyers. Some are just common folk who like what I do.”
Williams added he has gained exposure to buyers through Facebook.
In September, Williams sold 4 paintings for a total of $4,400 in the Primary Colors Gallery in Independence, Mo.
However, he explained, “I had to pay a 30 percent commission to the gallery, and I paid a ten percent commission to a friend who acted as my agent to get the show set up.” He said the event’s staff were pleased, telling him it was the most successful show they had ever hosted.
He also had a one-man show in the Outer Gallery in the UCM Gallery of Fine Arts in conjunction with the Mid-Missouri Artist Association. Four pieces sold in that show.
Williams has an Associate Degree in Commercial Art from Penn Valley Community College, and is a 2007 graduate of the UCM Criminal Justice program.
He decided to study art at UCM after winning a portfolio scholarship in 2011.
Williams said his wife Bridget and his five children all have some interest in art: painting, sculpture and digital animation.
His oldest son, John, is a Sophomore Graphic Design major at UCM who won the Student Citation Award Show in 2011.
Williams recalled meeting his mother-in-law before ever meeting his wife.
“I stopped to comment on a water color she had hanging in the show. I told her thought it was the best painting in the show.” But she replied that the painting was not hers; It was her daughters. “Little did I know I would be married to the creator of that painting,” he said.
Williams said that although his wife does not paint much anymore, “she is an accomplished gardener.”
Once a local State Senator stopped with his wife and “asked to go through [the flower garden].”
When Williams paints with oils, he has to move to a studio set up in an old cowshed because it irritates his wife’s sinuses.
“I am immune to it, probably brain dead,” he quipped, confessing that he enjoyed the smell of turpentine and linseed oil. Other than oil paints, he said he often uses acrylics.
As for subject, Williams is drawn to open landscapes and rural scenes close to nature.
“I want to connect to my viewer find common ground. I do works from memory that recall pleasant experiences from in my life or childhood.”
He also does portraits occasionally, and said he has done freelance teaching and painting demonstrations.