Sketching to popular demand


When people come to your store and ask for something, you try to give it to them.

In Wiley Purkey's case, he had to make an original item that people wanted -- a picture of the town of Sykesville.

"People are always coming in here looking for pictures of Sykesville, so I came up with this as a solution because it includes about everything," said Mr. Purkey, a former town councilman who is co-owner of Craftsman Art Co. at 7602 Main St.

The 14-by-20-inch image shows a center sketch of a cobblestoned Main Street, circa the 1930s, surrounded by 12 smaller sketches of town scenes.

Along the top of the center picture are sketches of the Town House, train station and Norwood Mansion.

"The B&O; agent for the train station lived in Norwood Mansion," Mr. Purkey said.

The left side of the print shows Springfield Presbyterian, St. Paul's United Methodist and St. Luke's United Methodist churches. Down the right side are St. Joseph's Catholic Church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and Springfield Mill on Route 32.

At the bottom of the print is a sketch of buildings on Main Street south of Oklahoma Avenue, the original firehouse on Norwood Avenue with a 1933 American LaFrance engine in front of it, and Main Street buildings north of Oklahoma Avenue.

"That was the original firehouse, jail and stables," Mr. Purkey said. "I guess stables because the first engine was most likely horse-drawn."

Craftsman Art Co. has made a limited edition of 300 signed and numbered lithograph prints from the original watercolor to sell. Unframed prints cost $50; they're about $100 with a frame, depending on the type of frame, Mr. Purkey said.

"If someone feels we've left out something, I'll do a little original pencil sketch, called a remarque, at the bottom of the print for them," Mr. Purkey added. "It can be their house, or a place where they have good memories of town, or another view of a building like one of the churches."

The remarque adds another $25 to the cost of the print, he said.

Mr. Purkey said he included all the churches in town "so no one would feel left out," along with several important historic buildings.

The new print of Sykesville took him two years to complete. He previously did a watercolor sketch of Ellicott City, where he grew up, that showed Main Street looking down from a hill.

"Now that I'm out here, I'm doing the environment here," he said, pointing to sketches he also did of the well-known Baldwin's Restaurant in the Victorian train station a few doors down Main Street.

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