Water color art on display at Catonsville bakery Saturday

Display of paintings, drawings or photographs on the walls upstairs at Atwater's bakery has become a staple for Catonsville's arts community.

The Oct. 6 reception on the second floor of the bakery at 815 Frederick Road will also mark the return of another mainstay in Catonsville's art world.

The event, 3-6 p.m., will celebrate the watercolor art of Bill Wilson, the first artist to have his work displayed on the bakery's unofficial second-floor gallery.

"It's a natural. We have the space," said Ned Atwater, who opened his Catonsville store in 2010.

"What we do is make food for the community, and we have others bring in art for the community," he said. "So, it's a natural combination. It benefits them (artists) and it benefits the people who come in to see it."

Wilson, whose oldest son, Will, went to school with Atwater, can still recall the January, 2011 scene when the bakery's food looked good enough to eat — and paint.

"Oh, he had a terrific display of breads on the table," Wilson said. "It was like a still life."

Wilson, 85, has been seeing everyday objects through the eyes of an artist for more than 50 years.

In local pubs during a three-week trip through Ireland several years ago, for example, he said he would grab a napkin and sketch a patron. When he would send the drawing over to its subject, a startled, but pleased, reaction would usually be followed by a command to the bartender to "Send that man a Guinness!"

Wilson laughed that later on during the trip, his companions would jokingly say, "Bill, draw somebody. We want a beer."

Every year, for 25 years, he and his late wife, Bonnie, along with several other couples, would rent houses in Europe. Spain, Italy, Ireland, Germany and Russia were among their destinations, he said.

His wife of 63 years died two years ago, leaving a void in his life that has brought about a change in lifestyle.

"I never used to get up early before," he said. "Now I do. I'm up by 6:30, 7 (a.m.)"

He spends his days in a large studio, flooded with natural light, attached to his Catonsville home. He'll talk to Will, a very successful artist in San Francisco, every day and usually meets his other son, Jeff, for dinner.

Often, when he comes home, he will return to his water colors.

"I'm always working on one. I sometimes have five or six going at the same time. I might get bored with it, then come back and look at it with fresh eyes," he said. "I never sit down and do it, and say, 'That's it.'

"I find I do less still-lifes now," he said. "I liked the teaching of it (how to draw), too. But I've curtailed that. I found I was doing too many things."

He will have 25 paintings on display, all hung on Atwater's walls the night before by his son Jeff. The drawings were all done within the past 18 months, he said, and most will cost $300, $350 or $400. He expects to sell a few.

"I'm pretty good at figures after 50 years," said Wilson, who will also have a booklet on how to draw a figure available at Saturday's reception.

"It's a fantastic feeling, painting, seeing something happen," he said. "Sometimes things run together, and you let them run together."

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