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Md. Man Creates Folk Art With Eye To The Past

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ELKTON (AP) — Local folk artist Al Davis has never had a major exhibition of his work, though he probably has enough to fill an entire gallery.

Walking down the hallways of his Elkton home, one sees whimsical paintings hanging from the walls; inside his studio, shelves display a medley of drawings, dioramas and carvings; and on the walls of his garage — where most people hang tools and other equipment — Davis has displayed numerous paintings and 3-D artwork.

The 51-year-old artist began creating folk art about 10 years ago. While he said he would enjoy sharing his artwork in a more public setting, his main purpose is simply to enjoy the creative process.

“I don’t paint to become famous. I paint to express something,” he said. “I do it for my own enjoyment.”

Davis works predominantly with acrylic paints, though he also dabbles in watercolors, pastels and colored pencils. The majority of his pieces depict wildlife, while others illustrate historic structures or maritime scenes that are meaningful to him.

“Generally, I paint on wood,” he said. “There’s a sort of feeling of warmth and naturalness that is conveyed from wood. It has a nice, solid feeling.”

A retired registered nurse, Davis spends much of his free time working on his art. He first got involved with the hobby by sketching with colored pencils and pastels.

But in the beginning, expressing himself as he does today through his art came as a challenge. Davis suffered from depression, which he said made it difficult for him to tap into his creativity.

“One night, after I had started taking antidepressants, I just started painting and I felt like I wanted to paint more and more,” he said. “I really feel like I blossomed as an artist at that point.”

Davis classifies his work as folk art because, he said, it’s not contemporary.

“I try to paint from a different time period, like the early part of last century. I feel like I’m from that time period and that when I paint, I

Regardless of the subject of his paintings, Davis strives to convey specific feelings through his works.

“My inspiration is to use my skills as a painter to capture an image and, along with that image, have some feelings that are conveyed in that image, whether it’s through the expression of the animals or the scene,” he said. “My motivation is to create and perhaps inspire others.”

Davis said he has had little exposure to the study of art. The majority of his knowledge has come from his mother, Vivian H. Pollari Davis, who, before her death in 1988, also enjoyed painting.

“When I paint, I feel like I’m connected to her,” he said.

Some of Davis’ favorite works are murals of animals that his mother painted on the walls of her Newark farmhouse. After his brother inherited the home, they were cut from the walls and incorporated into Davis’ home, where he later added his own artistic touch to the images.

“She was kind of a minimalist in terms of backgrounds and things. She was more focused on conveying the animals. I expanded on that by adding more textures and more depth,” he said.

Over the years, Davis has sold a few pieces of his artwork, but he said it is often times difficult for him to part with them.

“It’s kind of like trying to sell a family member,” he said. “Now I’m at the point where I want to create and have a legacy. That’s how I will live on — hopefully my paintings will be around for a while.”

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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