The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.
– Leonardo da Vinci
Bill Little was born and raised in an area of southern Illinois farm country which, in time, grew to become the eastern suburbs of St. Louis, MO. With the mind of an autodidact and steeled with many observations and experiences from his youth, following high school (with its art studies and scholastic competitions) he used his freedom to start his own business of piano tuning, among other ventures. He saved his visual art skills for his own pleasure, but in time was involved with several art guilds and exhibits in the St. Louis area. He also painted custom vehicles and graphics as well.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
– Henry David Thoreau
Suddenly recognizing an artistic, even poetic opportunity, in 2018 Bill sold his house and numerous belongings, rid himself of nagging debt, and took off to places unseen – pulling his motorcycle along in a trailer, along with his painting supplies. With no job prospects and little cash, and selling possessions along the way, he slept in rest areas, store parking lots, campgrounds and Bureau of Land Management grasslands for a year and a half, at times in temperatures nearing -20°F in S. Dakota. Throughout, he enjoyed the privilege of seeing through his eyes life from a different perspective, one not witnessed from any other path. He got acquainted with homeless people, and experienced total isolation from humans for weeks at a time in the vast western wilderness and its wildlife. His powers of observation were keenly honed, and he developed a sharp artistic vision by pondering just where in this world all dreams, confidences, mysteries and fears truly reside in the mind of someone at their mercy.
Bill knew he must apply with paint all these values and perceptions on canvas. From prior visits, he knew down deep the U.P. was where those lessons were meant to be brushed. In 2020 he moved to Calumet… where he finally turned his artistic focus toward the beautiful Keweenaw.
My paintings will always have reality for a foundation. I have always felt that if I pursue abstract constructs, it fosters unnecessary thoughts and wayward interpretation. I do not wish my paintings to say anything. I am not teaching with them. I hope that my art is viewed with a perfectly quiet mind with no expectation of finding in it joy or sadness, lessons or judgements – nothing. Simply a quiet mind at rest in the moment.
My painting style is influenced by Leonardo’s sfumato technique, Caravaggio’s compositional use of chiaroscuro, the earthy settings and moisture laden skies of Constable, the transcendental moods in the landscapes of George Inness and John Kensett of the Hudson River School.
My artwork – and life – will be forever influenced by memories of the wonderful stillness at my maternal grandpa’s distant old farm in far southeastern Illinois, the tranquil clear water and blue skies observed from the dock at my paternal grandmother’s lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, and the calm hearts of those I chose to associate with.