portrait Bill Perry As far back as I can remember I was interested in drawing and making things with my hands. My first recognition as a painter came while still in school when I won a First Place ribbon in the ALLIED ARTISTS annual Children’s Exhibit. The year was 1957.  In high school I received a scholarship to study painting at THE ARTISTS LEAGUE OF LIGONIER VALLEY in Rector, PA, and when I graduated from high school my teachers wanted me to go on to New York to continue my studies. But this was out of the question, as my family was much too practical to contemplate art as a career. They felt that one must have a marketable skill, and it was decided that I would become a teacher. I earned a B.S. in Art Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and continued to paint on my own, mostly in oils, throughout my undergraduate days. Indiana prepared me to teach and provided a strong foundation in the skills necessary to that end. However studio skills and specialization in a medium was largely sacrificed to a more comprehensive background.  Thus, I am largely a self-taught painter and have learned through studying the work of others and continued practice. My first teaching assignment was in Aliquippa, and I loved it. I had so much more freedom than my colleagues in deciding my curriculum, and as a result, teaching was always challenging and exciting. I went on to teach for 36 years in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. With a wife and four children I found, like so many others, that my painting took a back seat to the expediencies of earning a living and being a husband and father. In 1978, I gave away my oil paints and took up a medium that was quicker; at least this was how I viewed watercolors at first. I soon realized that the transfer from oils to watercolors was not going to be the simple matter I had envisioned. Watercolors, unlike oils, behave in very unpredictable ways. No matter how much I studied the work of others, capturing the qualities I admired in them was another thing all together. But I persisted, and eventually I was able to gain some control of this difficult and fluid medium. I entered my paintings in local shows and received a little recognition for my efforts. But when I view these earlier paintings today, I see little of my current direction in watercolor. Upon retirement, I continued to teach at Carnegie Mellon University, and then Slippery Rock High School.  Fully retired now, I have turned to painting in earnest. I find my inspiration in the nearby countryside where I roam with my always present digital camera, seeking those moments when the familiar has been transformed by some special quality of light. This fascination with light and color is what distinguishes my paintings.  I love the immediacy of the watercolor medium. For me it possesses a quality of freshness and spontaneity I could never achieve with another medium. I paint nearly every day, choosing subjects that interest me, occasionally taking on commissions if the challenge interests me. It is nice to have the freedom of knowing I don’t have to paint to pay the bills and feel my paintings are not motivated by practical considerations. I have won many prizes in shows both local and national and am a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and Pennsylvania Watercolor society. I have sold hundreds and hundreds of paintings but what brings me into the studio each day is a desire to explain what I see and feel in paint. I paint for me.  I am compelled by a desire to make permanent those moments that stir my soul, and with each painting the challenge is to capture a specific moment in time.  I don’t make prints of my work.  Each painting is unique, and in a world where duplication has become all too commonplace it is refreshing to know that you can have something that speaks to you directly and is one of a kind. My work can be viewed by visiting my online gallery at billperrypaintings.com or at my home gallery in Lakewood Ranch, Fl.