For many years, as a surveyor in the U.S. Army, Will Freeze drew maps. Today, he prefers to paint pictures of the natural world rather than mark its boundaries.
Will’s painting, “Paint Brush C.A.,” will be featured in the 2017 Art is Ageless Calendar. This was the first year he entered the competition at Rolla Presbyterian Manor. After taking first in his category here, Will’s piece was entered at the masterpiece level of the competition, among winners from 16 other Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America communities.
Will painted the scene from a photograph of dawn breaking over the Paint Brush Prairie Conservation Area – in particular, the prairie flower for which the area is named. “At early sunrise there is very little color other than the sun coming up. That was reason I selected it, because I was intrigued by the sunrise,” Will said. “If you were to look closely in the foreground of the picture you can see the silhouettes of the tall grass.”
It was Will’s wife, Marjorie, who encouraged him to enter the Art is Ageless competition. She became a Presbyterian Manor resident in February, and she died in May. Typically he preferred to paint pictures for friends and give them away, or at least trade. He received a handmade bamboo fly-fishing rod as a thank-you from one friend.
“I was in the military for 40 years, and I met people from all over,” he said. “I’ve got pictures scattered from Vermont to Arizona.”
Even in school, Will was drawn to art – first to bolster his GPA so he could stay eligible for football, but then he discovered he had a gift for painting. His talent at both earned him scholarship offers in art and football. He chose the sports offer but studied commercial art and illustration in college. An injury ended his career before he got his degree, though, and he left school.
The Korean War was on, and Will was drafted. To his surprise, he spent 20 years on active duty, eventually becoming a surveyor. Some of his work in the 1960s helped pave the way for today’s GPS satellite systems, Will said.
Will likes for his artwork to have a purpose, too, such as commenting on destruction to the environment. He’s now working on a painting of flowers from his yard with a bee and butterfly. He calls it “The Pollinators,” calling attention to the crisis of disappearing bee colonies. “I like to make things that have a message,” Will said.