Bedford artist Bill Earnshaw shares work
Friday, August 23, 2013
Bedford’s William “Bill” Earnshaw, 87, is an artist who has honed a lifelong interest in painting into a multi-colored masterpiece of a career, a passion reflective of the mental, physical and emotional world around him.
Whether his painting depicts a bride with her eyes modestly downcast, a seascape with crashing waves captured in stop-motion, or a landscape so inviting it could cause a bump to the nose as one is drawn to it, Bill Earnshaw is the creator of art.
Earnshaw and his wife, Lois Marie (Walker) Earnshaw, married 61 years, have traveled the world. Scenic views of mountains and forests, fields of buttercups and the rustic splendor of the Grand Canyon are captured on his canvases.
The pair has six children, 30 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren. Inspiration is never far away as one or the other of their family talks of a daydreamed galloping horse or a real butterfly flexing its wings. A cascade of roses, a tree with uplifted branches and a myriad of other visuals are grist for Earnshaw’s painting. He has completed scores of works. He uses oils, acrylics and watercolors. Currently, he favors watercolor collages. He began painting around 1960.
“I did watercolor and acrylics,” Earnshaw said. “It was pretty primitive at that time.”
The family has lived in New Hampshire since 1972. A native of Salt Lake, Utah, and a member of the Mormon Church, Earnshaw specialized in mechanical engineering in his college days at the University of Southern California. New England beckoned in 1959 when he was employed at Raytheon. Upon his retirement, he and his wife spent some time as missionaries in Australia and the Philippines. Everywhere they went, Earnshaw found subjects to paint.
The artist is a World War II veteran of the Naval Reserves. He served aboard the USS Terror, a cruiser assigned to mine-laying duties off Africa and in the South Pacific. Those tours registered for his later use the colors of a churning sea, one foamy with whitecaps, and a calm one.
He was introduced to oil painting by the Sudbury Art Association in Sudbury, Mass. Now, he is closely affiliated with the Manchester Artists Association and is a member of the New Hampshire Art Association. Works signed by Earnshaw are featured in dozens of private and public collections, overseas and in the United States. His collection of prizes is a bulky testament to excellence.
“I was working full time early on, so it was more of a hobby,” Earnshaw said. “I’d have my stuff in the basement and bring it upstairs to work in the kitchen. The kitchen always had the best light.”
Now, his roomy Bedford home offers a wealth of amenities including an art gallery and a music room. Dozens of his paintings, large and small, catch the eye. A spacious art studio on the second floor offers an abundance of northern light. The studio is where he paints and where he occasionally conducts one-day workshops for up to eight students. He has taught classes throughout the region.
“I remember the first painting I ever sold,” Earnshaw said. “It was a small oil of a man and a boy taking home a Christmas tree. I got a big $50 for it.”
Several Earnshaw paintings are exhibited at the Bedford Library. One of many colors is not to be missed as people traverse the staircase joining the main floor with the lower level. It is a large painting of fields and a dwelling richly textured with overlays of painted rice paper, a delicate paper called washi. Earnshaw likes to compose his watercolor collages of paint, bits of paper, strips of curved paper, patches of painted fabric and other materials that give depth and drama.
Earnshaw is rarely without a plan for the work in progress. He usually has a well developed idea in mind and has laid out the materials he will use. He said he prefers to work quickly, gluing and placing bits of washi upon already painted areas of 300-pound paper stock, a sturdy material well suited to support layers of glue and paint. He then goes back and perhaps adds a coat of color or contrasting color to the overlaid washi.
“I like the painting to talk back to me,” Earnshaw said. “You begin a painting and you go back into it to decide what it needs. I stand back and let it decide what it should tell me it needs.”
Earnshaw credits his sister, Mildred Farmer, of Los Angeles, with teaching him the techniques involved in watercolor collage. She is a retired school teacher. He said he is grateful she “encouraged me to experiment.”
He urges the curious to unleash their creative talent by experimenting without fear. He said that everyone has a latent talent. They can develop it with some effort and perhaps discover a lifelong passion.
“I have to laugh when people say they can’t draw a straight line,” Earnshaw said. “We don’t draw straight lines.”
For more information on the work of William “Bill” Earnshaw, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 472-3866. He also is featured on the website of the Manchester Artists Association: www.manchesterartists.com.