Bill Patterson

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Meet Milton, Delaware painter Bill Patterson.

Bill Patterson's paintings are done with an approach that is somewhere between realism and impressionism. He says that as a child, television played an important part in his becoming an artist.

Bill Patterson:
"I remember as a child there was a program called 'Winky-Dink'. And, Winky-Dink was a character on TV; and he would have a problem you would have to try and help him solve the problem. Well Winky-Dink the kit was a static piece of plastic that went on the TV screen. And so would draw on the plastic and complete the picture so that Winky-Dink could solve the problem. Well the issue with me was that I did not have the plastic sheet so I would just draw directly on the TV screen. So my parents said "this isn't going to work. We've got to do something else." So, I did that kind of thing. I remember other TV shows: John Nagy - Learn to Draw. They would encourage me by purchasing these items for me. It just grew from there."

"When I got into high school I had a good high school art teacher. I think at that time in elementary schools it was kitschy little things, paper bunnies and that sort of stuff. But when I got into high school that is where I really began to excel. I graduated most artistic. And the natural choice was to go into the art. So I went to Mercer Community College in Trenton."

"And that was kind of neat because a lot of the professors there lived in New York City. And, they would come down on the train and so I got a lot of neat current things that they were teaching. And I think I got a good base there. From Mercer Community College I went to Glassboro State College which is now Rowan. And throughout my career I took other courses at the University of the Arts. And um, I studied with Nelson Shanks at Studio Incamminati."

After thirty years of teaching high school art in New Jersey Bill retired to Delaware for its low taxes and continued his development as a painter. In 2014 he helped Nick Serratore set up the Studios at Walnut in Milton where he now works and gives classes.

Bill Patterson:
"So I tend to be more of a studio painter. I use a lot of sketches. A lot of time I'll just try to create things out of my head. Maybe I will see a reference of a scene that I like or I'll take a photograph and that will be a starting point and it will just progress from there. It kind of morphs into its own reality, ya know?"

"When you say what is your style like, I think you take what you see here, and you take what you see there and you kind of… You want to emulate that a bit. I don't think you want to copy it. But what happens is it all has to funnel through you. And so consequently you might say, "I'd like to paint like that guy." And once you start painting like that guy, you can't escape yourself. Your self is interjected into that. And after a while style just happens."

"You know I was always told: "Don't make a mistake." Well, that is the worst thing you want to think about as an artist. Because, some of the mistakes you make are the best things you've done. So with art I think you just have to plod along and try to look at various things you like - styles - but after awhile your own style will just emerge."

Bill says he regularly researches current and past artists looking at various techniques and styles to gain inspiration for his own work which demonstrates his superior drawing skills and an impressionist's sense of light. Though Bill concentrated for quite some time on still life, he is currently most interested in landscapes. Trap Pond, Prime Hook, and Broadkill Beach are some of his favorite local subjects to paint. Nature's serenity is at the heart of what he tries to convey through his work.

Bill Patterson:
"If I am out somewhere and I see a particular scene that I like I think: "What is it about that scene that I like?" I could be the quietness of a scene that I like, if I am in the woods. It might be a certain thought that I get from a scene that might bring me back to my childhood."

"And so I try to capture that feeling in the painting. I'm just moving toward a solitude sort of thing. I am also trying to work toward a more ethereal type of approach in the look of my paintings. You know, mystical, misty. I like that feeling of solitude, like I am the only person there. And I am just… I like quietness, the quietness of a landscape. You feel like you are the only person there."

Bill has been active in The Milton Artists Guild, serving as their president. You can see his work there and next door at the Studios on Walnut in Milton, Delaware.

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