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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Bill Melvin, Late 80s, Continues to Produce Art

By Laura A. Hobson

Born in 1929, Bill Melvin - now in his late 80s - continues to produce art, primarily paintings of airplanes.  A longtime resident of Mt. Lookout, he now resides in Anderson Township.  After his first wife Marion died, he remarried Janie in 1969. 

Bill Melvin with artwork he created of the World War II Tuskegee P51-B Mustang (c. 1940 - 1944)  
Melvin started as an office assistant in an advertising agency. Later, he worked in Kroger’s Art Department producing ads.  Melvin spent two years at the former Central Art Academy in East Walnut Hills. His last employer was Lipson Alport Glass & Associates, retiring in 1992.  “Everyone had a good sense of humor,” he said, recalling working on Procter & Gamble products such as Head & Shoulders as well as Kenner’s Star Wars.  

In retirement, Melvin enjoys the pursuit of aviation art, an interest that actually began early.  “As a kid, I would draw airplanes. It was my primary hobby.”  He remembers his father going to Cleveland for air racing. “Dad was a spectator,” adding that this inspired him.  His father owned Melvin Supply Company, a paint and ladder business.  Like other kids, Melvin worked during the summer. 

He started painting in watercolor and now also does pen and ink drawings.   Today he finishes one airplane sketch and starts another.  He has sold drawings as well as had a few commissions.    Some of his art is at Eisele Gallery of Fine Art in Fairfax.

A wall filled with beautiful aviation art by Bill Melvin
Doug Eisele, president and chief executive officer, Old World Restorations, Inc. and Eisele Gallery of Fine Art, started carrying Melvin’s work in 2012.  “When I first met Bill, I was struck by his character, artistic ability and his passion for the work that he does,” said Eisele, who found Melvin’s art distinctive and atypical.  He thinks Melvin’s work is significant because, “it is extremely difficult, working in an unforgiving medium.”  The Eisele website biography of Melvin mentions in 1993 his rendering of the Curtis F9C Sparrowhawk (Macon Airship Fighter) was accepted for the first Pensacola Naval Museum Art exhibition.

Melvin does shows every year, including one at EnterTRAINment Junction and the American Legion on Clough Pike.  He also participates in the Lunken Airport Aviation Day  - Anderson Post 318.  
His drawings go back before World War I to the early days of flying, but Melvin said World War II is a period more popular among his clients.  He also has extensive lettering experience, requiring accuracy and attention to detail, used for the creation of plane paintings. 

Melvin researches his planes with books and magazines, giving his own artistic touch to the creations.  He also looks at photographs, aviation pictures and calendars.  Melvin counts on authenticity and detail.

He has a gallery at home.  In addition, he has put his work on the internet.  But he is fine with selling two paintings per year.  “Older people are my biggest fans, especially veterans who remember the planes,” he said.  His friends are also interested in private planes.  

Melvin is a member of the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton as well as the Naval Air Force Museum, the Friends of America Fighter Aces, the Warbird Museum, The Museum of Flight, The American Society of Aviation Artists  and the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

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