Bill Perry

As far back as I can remember I was interested in drawing and making things with my hands. My first recognition as a painter came while still in school when I won a First Place ribbon in the ALLIED ARTISTS annual Children’s Exhibit. The year was 1957.

In high school I received a scholarship to study painting at THE ARTISTS LEAGUE OF LIGONIER VALLEY in Rector, PA, and when I graduated from high school my teachers wanted me to go on to New York to continue my studies. But this was out of the question, as my family was much too practical to contemplate art as a career. They felt that one must have a marketable skill, and it was decided that I would become a teacher.

I earned a B.S. in Art Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and continued to paint, mostly in oils, throughout my undergraduate days. My first teaching assignment was in Aliquippa, and I loved it. I had so much more freedom than my colleagues in deciding my curriculum, and as a result, teaching was always challenging and exciting.

A wife and four children soon followed, and like so many others have found, my painting took a back-seat to the expediencies of earning a living and being a husband and father. In 1978 I gave away my oil paints and took up a medium that was “quicker”; at least this was how I viewed watercolors at first. I soon realized that the transfer from oils to watercolors was not going to be the simple matter I had envisioned. Watercolors, unlike oils, behave in very unpredictable ways. No matter how much I studied the work of others, capturing the qualities I admired in them was another thing all together. But I persisted, and eventually I was able to gain some control of this difficult medium. I entered my paintings in local shows and received a little recognition for my efforts. But when I view these earlier paintings today, I see little of my current direction in watercolor.

As my kids went off to college my painting activities ground to a standstill. In 1998 I retired from public school teaching and once again turned my attention to watercolors. Painting is, for me, an ongoing process. I have conducted workshops recently with the Indiana Arts Association. Currently, I am conducting a series of workshops with the Tarentum Art Association. This leaves me plenty of time to roam the countryside looking for those moments when the light’s just right and the familiar becomes something very special to capture with paint.