92-Year-Old Hewitt Artist Has Been Painting Since He Was 10

By DEDRA DAVIS

IMG_7319Having a passion for something, your entire life is a blessing; being able to provide for your family with this passion is even a bigger blessing.  And when you are 92 years old, you are still blessed with this passion and the ability to bring it to life and provide joy to others with your work, that’s a godsend.

George Gibbons began painting at the age of ten and hasn’t ever really stopped. This is evident from all the artwork in his house that hangs on the walls like a museum.

He calls Hewitt home, by way of Pensacola, Florida, where he and his wife lived for forty years.

Susan Sistrunk, a fellow Waco artist and a friend describes Giddens, “He puts every artist in Waco, all of us, to shame with his skill and humility.”

“He works mainly in acrylic/oil. His work transcends time periods, as it encompasses so much history,” Sistrunk describes admirably.

George has a lifetime of work in his home, shop and garage. Art is everywhere, including paint and supplies.  He has a full studio outside, in a separate building, that is a perfect place for the creative to work.  He also has a room in his house that is just as jam-packed of his artwork and supplies.

Although he is getting around a bit slower, if it is a pretty day, you will find him in his outside studio creating.  He mentioned it is harder these days, due to hands that are numbing and eyes that don’t work as well as they used to.

Giddens still paints in his studio every day because painting is a part of his life; his heart.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Giddens started painting at age ten. He won a state-wide contest given by Alabama Education Association.  In high school, Giddens was the staff artist for the monthly school newspaper and he also did artwork for the school yearbooks.

In 1950, he married his bride, Gwendolyn, and they are still happily together 66 years later.  This is obvious by the way she looks at him. She puts up with his paint everywhere, throughout the house, in his studio outside, as well as his studio inside.  She is very proud of all his artwork and proudly has his works of art hanging throughout their home.

Giddens served his country with honor and after he was discharged from the army, living in Birmingham, the two married, and the Giddens had two children that they are very proud of, daughter, Georgia Baird, of Woodway, and son, Scott Giddens, of Pensacola.

The young couple moved to Gulf Breeze, Florida, in 1965, and there he began oil painting. Giddens is self-taught and many of his pieces are of objects he has never seen in real life.  He has painted the Seine River, in Paris, and he has many pictures of ships and planes, as well as vintage automobiles.

“I began painting airplanes after acquiring my pilots license in 1946 and I became obsessed with airplanes,” Giddens explains.

He has a strong love of history and is an avid reader of the history of aviation through World War II. His heroes are World War I fighter pilots.

He then began painting pharaohs of ancient Egypt, many landscapes, ships, nautical scenes, old vintage automobiles, musical instruments, architecture and still life paintings.  He has recently started painting Texas scenes, western scenes with acrylics. He has even painted large sand dollars that they have found on beaches.  He would make them into clocks and sell them to local vendors.  Bob Hope and Gene Autry are owners of his work.

Giddens has sold 100’s of paintings throughout his career, including one to a senator. He also was commissioned to paint scenes for the 1993 and 1995 Christmas Events Calendar by the Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board. He received the People’s Choice ribbon and a cash prize at the Billy Bowlings Festival, in Ft. Walton Beach.

“Later, I was commissioned to paint many of the old buildings by a prominent merchant in Pensacola,” Giddens proudly announced and continued, “I also won best of show for a painting at the Fifth Annual Senior Art Show.”

The Giddens’ moved to Waco ten years ago.  He had slowed down on his painting until he was discovered by a happenstance meeting with a local artist, Monica Shannon, one of the founders of The Creative Art Studio and Theater and the Waco Artist Market, a pop-up market for artist, located downtown on Saturday mornings.

Shannon also organizes the art shows, in Waco, currently located at the SpringHill Suites, located at 200 Colonnade Parkway, In Woodway. The Summer Art Show, featuring Texas Fine Artists, includes all original paintings and photography. The show opens on Thursday, June 30, and runs through Saturday, August 27th. Texas Fine Artist is a collection of unique Texas visual artists exhibiting at venues in Waco. Artwork can also be viewed at Hewitt Public Library, located at 200 Patriot Court.

Giddens has five original paintings in the art show, in Woodway and two paintings at the Hewitt Public Library.

“Here in Waco, I have also donated a few paintings to the Red Men Museum and Library.”

Giddens has a niece that paints and a cousin, Phillip Harris Giddens, that is known internationally for his etchings, that he is very proud of.  He has artwork in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Library of Congress, The British Museum and The Bibiotheque Nationale in Paris of Art.

Other local artist featured at the Summer Art Show include Mat Tindell, Roy de Romero, Deborah Propst, Susan Sistrunk, Scout Davis, Jan Hartford, Lisa Hendry, Charles Wallis, Katie Lairmore, and Richard Gilbert. The photographers at the show will be Dr. Spencer Moore, Sheri Hemrick and Rick Duhrkopf. Patriotic music will be played live by The Horton Duo.

 

For more information on the Summer Art Show, visit https://www.facebook.com/

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