By Leigh Carter
Leigh Carter/Caswell Messenger Caswell County artist
Russell C. Watlington shows his latest work, framed and
displayed for visitors in his Yanceyville home. Each of
Watlington's pieces are done from Caswell County subject
matter including rural scenes and portraits.
Jul 08, 2008 - 11:24:23 pm CDT
Rows and rows of pen and ink, charcoal and watercolor pictures line the walls of Caswell County artist Russell C. Watlington's home, many pieces displayed representing more than 220 hours of hard work.
"I am very fortunate that I have been able to stay in Caswell County all these years," Watlington said. "I dearly love it here, I am surrounded by the very best subject matter."
Born and raised in Caswell, Watlington attended Elon University for two years before deciding to pursue a career in art.
"I went to the Technical Institute of Alamance which is now Alamance Community College," Watlington said. "I got my associates degree in art but didn't get much time to use it." Watlington received his draft card shortly after interviewing for a position as a furniture illustrator for Alderman Studios.
"I got the draft notice and went in and told them that I wouldn't be able to accept the job," Watlington said. "I went into the service, spent three years in the army and one in Vietnam."
Watlington married Caswell County native Marlene Pyrant in 1971 and has had two sons and five grandchildren.
"My wife and I grew up together in the church and she played with my sister when she was little," Watlington said. "Both of my boys built homes on the farm, we love having them and the grandchildren close by."
Watlington retired from Bank of America in 2002 after 31 years of service and six mergers.
"This was my first love," Watlington said of being an artist. "There was never a doubt about what I would be doing after I retired and was on my own time." Each of the scenes shown in Watlington's work are within 10 miles of his home, all of rural Caswell County, from the aged barns and tobacco in "Early Winter Afternoon" to the rooster and hens shown in "Good Afternoon, Ladies."
"Rockingham, Danville and other places have similar subject material but there is something about the rural scenes in Caswell County that I love," Watlington said. "I love to tell people that the scenes I display are each from places in Caswell County where I am from."
Coming events where Watlington's work will be shown include the Hoedown on Sept.27 and the Randolph Art Skill Fall Festival on Oct. 4-5 in Asheboro.
"I am living out a lifetime dream," Watlington said. "It has been very rewarding and I fell truly blessed."
Watlington is a member of the Caswell Artists League composed of professional artists and craftsmen living in Caswell County. His art can be viewed at the North Carolina Visitor's Center, the Milton Art Gallery, The Yancey House Restaurant and Gallery and at his home, 934 Hatchett Road in Yanceyville.
Article and photograph courtesy of The Caswell Messenger, which retains all rights.
For more go to Russell C. Watlington and Winery at Iron Gate.