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Michael England Paints from Memory

New Anderson Artists Guild member Mike England remembers sitting around his grandmother’s kitchen table with cousins and siblings, all of them coloring. What was fun to the others was serious to England. “I would go back and correct theirs and shade it in to make it look the best I could,” he said.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, England moved with his family to Florida and then to a little town outside the Atlanta airport in 1963, following his dad’s job transfers with an airline. After high school, England joined the Navy. After his tour was up, he completed a degree in visual arts at Georgia State University by attending night classes.

During the day, he worked as a civil engineer, eventually working his way into management. Most of his positions—for county and state governments and mostly in the metro Atlanta area—involved traffic. He had a hand in many facets, including roads, water, construction techniques and methodologies, and structures, but most of his focus was on traffic signals, principally flow and timing. “It was fascinating, a form of problem solving, and it gave me a lot of satisfaction,” he said.

He retired in 2013 after more than 40 years in engineering. In 2015, he and his wife moved to Hartwell, Georgia, to escape the traffic he had spent his career studying. One of his hobbies is hybridizing daylilies, and he serves on the board of the Hartwell Art Center.

He devotes several hours each evening to painting, mainly in watercolor, which he finds the easiest medium and which helps him achieved the desired effects. Though he continues to experiment, the style he always returns to is realistic. He is inspired by the ordinary world around him, sometimes making a quick sketch or taking a photo, but more often simply relying on a keen memory. “I can look at something and remember it well enough,” he said. “I see everything [in my mind] in very sharp focus from left to right.”

He is often attracted by lines, like the strong vertical of the lighthouse on St. Simons Island, Georgia, for Dad’s Lighthouse or the hard horizontal of a tree line for Sleeping Horses.

His work has been widely recognized, from its selection to grace five covers of the magazine Brown’s Guide to Georgia to numerous “best in show” awards. He continues to enter shows—and to collect awards—but that’s not what drives him. Instead, he relishes connecting with other artists—something he sorely misses during the pandemic. “I want to talk to people about their stuff and how they do that,” he said.

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