Westminster artist John Long shows off some of his work.
Westminster artist John Long shows off some of his work. (Lyndi McNulty / Correspondent)

John Long is a painter who lives in Westminster. Long became interested in art when he was 17 years old. After graduating from Westminster Senior High School in 1968, Long attended a commercial art school in Pikesville. While there, he learned to draw illustrations for ads. He enjoyed pen and ink drawing the most but did not like doing ads.

After graduating he did not continue to do artwork. Long said he was not a good person back then. He stopped drawing for 40 years.

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After Long retired from DART Container Company in Hampstead three years ago, Long decided to start doing artwork again. He wanted to see if he could still draw and decided to draw a dog, which came out well. He used pen and ink as well as charcoal to do the image of the dog.

The Westminster Rescue Mission asked him to do some artwork for them so he did a colored pencil image of Jesus Christ. Long also did colored pencil images of hummingbirds for the organization.

Long decided to take art classes at the Westminster Senior Center close to his home.

“Mary Streaker is a wonderful teacher,” he said. “Streaker said one or two things can change a painting. Things like adding blue to snow make a difference.” She also taught him to never start at the bottom of painting. The artist should put the subject in the middle.”

He learned to do paintings of trees and bushes with a sponge. Long likes to paint animals such as wolves and foxes and recently did some portraits. One of the portraits is a pen and ink of the theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein and another is of Amelia Earhart, who was the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean.

He has also done a painting of the Ark that now hangs in the Wesley Church in Finksburg as well as the 12 apostles.

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“I can’t help but to be an artist. If I threw everything out today, in a month I would accumulate more things with which to make art,” Fred Nastvogel said.

Currently, Long is working on a series of military paintings for the VFWs and American Legions of Carroll County. He was in the Army for two years. Long has painted images of wounded warriors. Another painting shows a soldier walking down the road. One image has an eagle flying with an American flag in its mouth in honor of soldiers that passed away. He has painted six so far that will hang in the buildings and has four more to go.

Recently, someone gave Long a book of old paintings for Christmas. When he saw the painting of the Mona Lisa, he decided to try to recreate himself in pen and ink.

Long believes that God talks to him and told him to paint the sermon on the mount. Long did not think he could paint it but God gave him the talent. It was a successful painting that hangs in the Grace United Church of Christ in Taneytown.

“God takes ordinary people and has them do great things,” Long said.

Adam Shaw from Taneytown Grace Church is a local artist who has mentored Long and helped him with his artwork. Shaw does critiques on Long’s artwork and tells him if something is wrong.

Long admires the old artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. He also likes to watch the painter Bob Ross on television.

“I like to see what I can do. It always surprises me what I can do. I can always correct something in a painting if I need to do so,” Long said.

Long entered his artwork in the 4-H Senior Art Category at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Agricultural Fair held in Westminster. In 2017, Long won a blue ribbon for his pen and ink of a wolf.

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Last year, Long won a blue ribbon for his Albert Einstein portrait. Long won another blue ribbon and Judges Choice Award for his colored pencil drawing of a leopard, done in the Impressionist style of pointillism. Pointillism is artwork done in a series of dots of color that are not blended together on the canvas or paper. The eye blends the colored dots together forming a more luminescent image. The style was developed in 1886 by artists George Seurat and Paul Signac. Seurat’s most famous image is titled “Sunday in the Park.” Long’s successful leopard image is composed of 300 dots.

Last year was a learning experience for Long.

“I am excited about next year,” Long said, noting that he is currently looking for military images he can use for artwork. “I don’t do this for money. It is a joy to finish a work of art. I want to do as many as I can for the last part of my life. I am glad God gave me a second chance in life to do art.”

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