Childhood passion for art still a thrill

“Africa” mirror image landscape by Don Henry. CONTRIBUTED

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“Africa” mirror image landscape by Don Henry. CONTRIBUTED

When Don Henry was in third grade at Robinson Grade School in Akron, he couldn’t wait to finish his schoolwork so he could do what he loved best — drawing. Luckily, he had a teacher who knew how to motivate the youngsters.

“The teacher allowed the students to have access to the 8.5-by-11 clean, fresh newsprint sheets after they finished their in-school work assignments,” recalls Henry, 77, of Springboro. “And you could color, draw, whatever you wanted to do. So I tried to finish early every day, so I could go get the paper and start drawing.”

That love of art stayed with him; he studied for two years in the fine arts program at the University of Akron. But reality intruded. When he got a full-time job at Goodyear Tire, he had to switch to evening classes. His plan to become an artist was put on the back burner, and he graduated with majors in business and education. He managed sales/marketing departments for several industrial product and capital equipment companies, painting in his spare time.

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When he retired as vice president of United Air Specialists in Blue Ash in 2002, he revisited that feeling he had back in the third grade. He started spending lots more time in front of an easel and canvas, paintbrush in hand.

Sharing his art with the public

He will be presenting 30 paintings, a mix of acrylics and oils, in a solo show at the Art Gallery at the Centerville Police Department during April.

“This is an excellent opportunity for me. Like all artists, I want to get my work out into the public eye, and show work that they’ll like and appreciate,” said Henry.

The subject matter is wide: landscapes, seascapes, still life, abstracts, people/animal portraits, and nature. He’s not locked into one subject or medium.

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“I paint a wide range of categories; I don’t concentrate on any one area. I like to paint everything,” said Henry. “Acrylics dry fast, but oils blend better. Oils are a deeper quality of paint, but the way I paint, it’s hard to tell the difference. It depends upon the finish you use with acrylics.”

Recently changing his style

He has varied his style of painting most recently. It runs on a continuum from detailed realism to recognizable but simpler forms, to abstract explosions of color.

“Blue Gray Day” is a realistic seascape, with two old boats, a weathered dock, and good play of light, shadow and reflection. For a landscape titled “Africa,” he focused on a mirror image of a few simple forms. His untitled abstracts show a fluidity of form and movement.

“For me, the process of work in organizing color on a blank canvas and trying out new techniques is engrossing,” Henry said. “The best painting is always the one you are currently working on. You get so attached and involved in the painting itself.”

Besides art he likes to play golf, garden, and is happily attached to his family: wife Marilyn, four children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

“I’m hoping one of them will be an artist,” Henry said.

Want to Go?

What: "An Art Collection of Color and Form" by Don Henry

Where: Art Gallery at the Centerville Police Department, 155 W. Spring Valley Road.

When: April 1-30

Opening Reception: 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 9

More Info: 937-433-7151;

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