Vibrant hues, passion, time frame a painter's later life

Clarence Williamson finally gave in to a pleasure that is gaining him recognition.

Published May 25, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - Clarence Williamson loves to tell of the time when a woman queried him about what made his talent so noteworthy that he would be invited to a juried art show.

As she watched him pressing abstract strokes into the canvas, she quipped that with a little practice she could do just as well.

Williamson told her he hoped she would do exactly that, adding, "I would be happy to stop by your booth."

Williamson thinks the title of artist may be a bit of an overstatement. Painting, drawing and sculpting may require at least a modicum of talent, but the most important ingredient is recognizing one's own desire to be creative, he says.

Which may explain why it took Williamson the better part of 60 years to get up the nerve to lift a brush to canvas.

"Until about 20 years ago, I never even had the time to be an artist, " the octogenarian said. "To me, it was something you trained years to do. But once I started painting, I realized I had missed out on something that gave me great pleasure."

What began 20 years ago in a night art class at Auburn University in Alabama has blossomed into a pursuit that is earning Williamson recognition in regional art circles throughout the South. Beginning this month, his vivid acrylic and watercolor works are featured in the spring/summer exhibit at the Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery.

Since retiring to Citrus County two years ago, the former insurance broker has devoted more and more time to his passionate hobby.

"I tend to get carried away with it, " Williamson said. "Sometimes I'll start working at 7 at night, and the next thing I know I'm looking at the clock and it's 2 a.m."

After initially working with oils, Williamson switched to acrylics for their ease of handling and quicker drying time. He says the medium offers an enticing platform for abstract style.

"Acrylics are perfect for larger brushes, " Williamson said. "In abstracts, the idea is to let the color go where it wants to go. After you work with acrylics for a while, you begin to develop a feel for the paint. The blend of colors makes for exciting possibilities."

City Hall Art Gallery director Rhonda Hancock said Williamson's watercolor abstracts are particularly enthralling.

"I saw some at an exhibit in Citrus County and I was wowed by how vivid the colors were, " she said. "He's a remarkable talent."

Although his art has frequently been shown at galleries and art shows around his native Montgomery, Ala., Williamson is still relatively unknown in Central Florida. He sees the Brooksville exhibit as a way to boost his profile.

"I hope people will stop by and spend some time with my paintings, " he said. "Through them I think they'll get to know a lot more about me."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

If you go

Art in Brooksville

The Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery's spring/summer exhibit continues through the coming months at 201 Howell Ave. and features works by E. McCamly Belknap Jr., Harv Berman, Norman R. Freyer, Gail Rose, Lynda Spencer Ryan and Clarence Williamson. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free. The public is invited to an artist reception from 5 to 7 p.m. June 27 at the gallery. 544-5407.

Right: Williamson's Eccentricities, acrylic