Monticello, Arkansas, my hometown, has two children’s’ homes. The Presbyterian Home is on the southwest part of town and as a child, I passed it many times headed to Green Hill to visit my Momâ€™s parents. The Baptist Home is on the north edge of Monticello. I knew many kids from both and saw them daily at school or athletic practices.
About two years ago, Jerry Morrow, who grew up at the Baptist Home, called and asked if I could do a painting of it, showing all of the main buildings that people would remember from the 1950â€™s to the â€™70â€™s or so. I said I thought I could manage it if he had enough photos that would allow me to piece all the buildings together. The boys’ and girls’ dormitories had been torn down since then and they were the most recognizable buildings beside the main or administrative building.
Unfortunately at the time he called, I was about to have shoulder surgery so I couldnâ€™t really get started for about three months. And even then my right arm was not very strong. Eventually I began drawing the Administrative building in the center and started working my way out on both sides. I did not have a single photo taken from the viewpoint where I would have liked but I was able to finally piece everything together from multiple photos without leaving out too many things (thank you wife with the Photoshop skills). And, naturally, things get shifted a bit this way or that in the creative process. Some trees did not make the â€œcutâ€â€¦so to speak. 😉 Artistic license at work, haha.
With the buildings finally done, Jerry and I both decided that some â€œdecorationâ€ would be in order. Between the two of us, several things were added. I added cars from the 50â€™s and 60â€™s and a blue bus. Jerry suggested the pool and basketball courts be added. Then I added in some kids in the pool and some shooting baskets. Others walking and talking. Some just messing around. Just like they would on a summer’s day.
The whole scene is framed by the sign â€¦Arkansas Baptist Home for Children. Jerry is intending to have prints done for folks who lived there over the years. He lives in Fort Smith and will be getting the word out about this excellent project.