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Follow your dream. Discover your passion.

Artist Showcase: Gary Wilson

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“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.” —Marcus Aurelius

Many great stories start with the phrase “I bet I could do that.” One such story was about the first mountaineers (“mountaineers” being a bit of an overstatement) to reach the North Summit of Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in the United States.

In the midst of a heated barroom debate, fueled by beer and male hubris, the feasibility of climbing the monster Mt. McKinley that loomed in the distance became a hot topic. Before long a bet was made, and an expedition of ragtag Alaskan miners was being assembled to make the ascent.

Clad in bib overalls, wool long underwear, insulated rubber boots, mittens, shirts, and light parkas, several of the men munched on bacon and hunted caribou meat before actually reaching the summit of McKinley in 1909.

A similar (though not racked with foolish pride) story took place when Gary Wilson stumbled upon realistic graphite drawing online. Beyond doodles and cartoon characters, Gary hadn’t done much in the way of drawing. But he was so impressed with the works he saw online that he decided to give it a try. “Around this time grandchild number 12 was born, and one of the photographs of her was perfect for me to have a go at drawing,” says Wilson. “So I found an old HB pencil and some copy paper and did my first-ever portrait.”

The portrait was far from what he had been so enthralled by online, but the fun he had doing it was enough to inspire him to investigate further. He ordered a drawing starter kit from artist Darrel Tank, grabbed his favorite picture of his wife, and took another stab at portrait drawing.

This time he actually shocked himself. With a little instruction, Gary had made drastic improvements since his first portrait. Skeptical, he grabbed another picture—this time of his father—and sat down to draw. “I had to do another just to check that it wasn't a fluke, so I got a picture of my dad when he was young and did that too,” remembers Gary. “To my surprise that one turned out okay too. The progress just snowballed from there.”

One of Gary’s childhood memories is of watching his mother draw pictures of Disney characters for his sister’s bedroom and hearing her say that she couldn’t draw faces—“they were just too hard.” At the time, Gary didn’t think much of it. He just assumed that if his own mother couldn’t draw faces, then there was no way he could do it. But now Gary was drawing faces! Moreover, he was drawing entire portraits—and they actually looked good.

Gary’s work has become an inspiration to many other artists—especially senior artists. Gary’s affinity for classic entertainers has struck a chord in many followers of his art. In one artist’s words, “Not only does he inspire us with his great artwork...but he takes us old timers back to memory lane by capturing so well those comedians of old.”

So here’s to Gary for daring to take that first step and discovering his passion. Starting with only a piece of copy paper and an HB pencil, Gary made that illusive first step and continued to build upon that simple foundations. Maybe now is a good time for you to take another look at those things in your life that were originally believed to be out of reach. Why not challenge yourself—place a bet on you—and see what you’re capable of? It’s one bet that you can’t lose!

If you would like to see more of Gary’s artwork, be sure to check out his profile at 5pmc.com.

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