Captured on canvas

Published 10:00 pm Saturday, March 21, 2009

Robert Ware of Clanton is most in his element when he’s painting.

“It relaxes me,” says Ware, 65. “Living here with my son, I don’t get bored.”

Not a day goes by that he doesn’t spend time creating something original on canvas. He even paints on Sundays, in the evenings.

A walk through Ware’s apartment is like a tour of his life, because his works reflect things important to him — friends and family, figures in black history, jazz music and Alabama football, just to name a few.

“I like all phases of art, including abstract,” he says.

Ware has found a seemingly endless source for inspiration from a number of subjects since he started painting at 23. One of the first to inspire him was his father.

“He didn’t pursue it but he knew how to draw real well,” Ware says. “For color, he used crayons.”

As a child, Ware couldn’t stop drawing. He drew at school (he is a 1962 graduate of Chilton County Training School) and got in trouble once drawing in church.

“They didn’t wait until I got home,” he says of his parents.

But his father left him with an undeniable love for art. In fact, the last words he left him with were, “Don’t ever stop drawing.”

And Ware has heeded those words. He has painted more than 300 pieces and has sold around 200. His work has been featured in Plainfield, N.J.; at the Carver Museum in Tuskegee, and at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

Ware, a former bus driver, lived in New Jersey from 1965-1975, Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1975-1987, and then moved down to Atlanta before making his way back to Clanton.

His most memorable moment was when he presented a portrait to Jewell Jackson McCabe, founder and chairperson of the Coalition of 100 Black Women, at the municipal complex in Tuskegee. Ware says the painting hung in one of the World Trade Towers at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

But perhaps what Ware takes the most pride in is the fact he has never entered an art classroom.

“That’s what I am most proud of,” he says.

Ware has been commissioned to paint a family portrait for Anthony Hawkins, a retired secretary of minority affairs. He will present the portrait June 14 at the famous Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C.

Ware is also working with a longtime friend, Mae Campbell, to develop a Web site and plan local exhibits, among other goals.

“This is a dream come true for me,” he says.