In March 2017, we strolled through the streets of Old Salem. He would point to the buildings that interested him, and I happily photographed them. He had a vision to create a calendar of Old Salem buildings. Fascinated by the history, array of colors, and mostly the challenge, 98 year old artist Bill Edwards had dreamed of putting together a calendar of his watercolor art. He explained to me that every true to life detail of the buildings needed to be represented in his paintings, with the only added liberty being to remove vehicles out of the background. This is to ensure that Old Salem is authentically represented in his work.
Born in Alabama in August 1919, Bill Edwards has story after story to share of his colorful life. With a special knack to grow anything, his picturesque art studio is nestled in his back yard garden, currently boasting blooms of a camellia named after him - The Japonica 'Bill Edwards' Camellia. Bill Edwards traveled the world aboard the USS Memphis Flagship of the Atlantic Fleet in World War II. Some of the many places that he visited surround him in beautiful paintings in this studio. Bill Edwards moved to Winston - Salem in 1957, and opened his art studio in Clemmons, NC in 1982. After chatting it up with my mother in the produce section of the grocery store, he has been welcomed into my family for Easter and Thanksgiving celebrations for many years.
I put together a gallery of photographs for Bill Edwards to choose from our day at Old Salem. He narrowed them down, and then had them transferred to slides. He then projected the images onto a screen, and began to sketch. Over one hundred hours went into the watercolor paintings for his calendar, and a countless number of foot taps as Bill Edwards loves to listen to jazz while he works. He even sang while I photographed him in his studio.
I'm proud to have played a small part in this beautiful masterpiece.