TAMPA — Zephyrhills artist William Bellgraph, 79, said he didn’t have time for art when he worked as a merchant mariner, even though he had aspirations of taking an art correspondence course.
Now that he is retired, Bellgraph finds time for art classes at the Life Enrichment Center in the Carrollwood/Forest Hills area.
His solo art show, “Alluminations,” opens Jan. 14 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Bamboozle Cafe, 516 N. Tampa St. There will be free wine and tea tastings.
Bellgraph said his paintings are based upon photographs he took while working as a Merchant Marine and traveling through California, Washington and Maine, although he also depends on his imagination.
“Once in a while I make something up totally out of my head,” he said.
Bellgraph said he started taking classes at the center about three years ago.
He took a portrait course, but mainly participates in the open studio class.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “There are a lot of people — mostly talking going on. But we also help one another and give bits of advice.”
Bellgraph said the work on display through Feb. 1 will include oil paintings and some watercolors, and the subjects will be people, landscapes and seascapes.
“I have always enjoyed art,” he said. “I have always been interested in it, but didn’t have the time because I had to work.”
Jayne Lisbeth, an artist and writer from Seminole Heights, said, “Bill is a terrific artist who portrays everyday scenes with beautiful mood and color,” adding that he represents everyday life with an unique style.
“He certainly deserves a solo show.”
Lisbeth said Bellgraph took classes at Pensacola Junior College in life painting, portraiture, watercolor, pastels and oil. He moved to Zephyrhills in 2002.
She said his work in oils ranges from the absurd — such as robots on mules — to paintings of landscapes, animals and other aspects of nature.
Bellgraph’s work has received ribbons at the Florida State Fair. His work has also been on display at the TECO Public Art Gallery.
Bamboozle Cafe is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. For information on the art show, call (813) 231-2579.