When Bill Sheridan needed to transition from his apartment at St. John’s Meadows to long-term care, there was one requirement he and his family insisted his new home was able to accommodate. “He needed to bring his art work with him,” his daughter Beth explains. “That was an absolute for him.”
Bill’s love of art began while taking art classes growing up in the Buffalo area, before taking a couple more in engineering school. While his work as a mechanical and systems engineer did allow him to utilize his drafting skills, his passion for sketching and painting intensified throughout his adult life. Seeking a creative outlet, he turned to more artistic endeavors. “I remember he used to draw political cartoons for a local newspaper,” says Beth, referencing his years contributing as a cartoonist to The Peekskill Star under the pen name “Scully.”
As time went on, Bill became a more prolific painter. He started sitting for plein-air sessions and creating the scenes and landscapes he was surrounded by. Bill also became very active in the Western New York art community through participation in additional art classes, entering gallery shows, and supporting other local artists and their successes. While much of his own work has been produced using acrylic paints, he also dabbles in watercolors, charcoals, and colored pencils.
Bill’s work appeared in the Rochester Art Club’s show at Hungerford Gallery in 2017, the same year he moved to St. John’s Meadows. Once acclimated to his new home, his talents went to good use as an active member of the community’s artist movement. While continuing to paint in his apartment as well as during formal community art sessions, Bill also helped organize the annual St. John’s Meadows Gallery Show.
Bill and his family felt St. John’s Meadows was a great fit for someone who paints every day. “I think it is a really great release for him,” Beth says. When the need for a higher level of care arose, Bill’s new private room at St. John’s Home met that prerequisite of having the space needed to allow him to continue plying his craft. His room is equipped with an easel complete with all of the tools necessary to continue producing attractive canvas paintings.
Today, Bill’s identity is significantly tied to the continuing pursuit of his artwork. “I enjoy painting considerably,” he says. At various points throughout his day, he sits at his easel, surrounded by several of his past works mounted on the walls. Right now, he is working on completing a portrait inspired by the photo of a St. John’s employee’s wedding. “I have another commissioned painting I’ll be working on next,” says Bill.
“Red, yellow, and white are the colors I use for flesh and skin tone,” Bill explains to other members of the Art in the Studio class during a recent Friday morning session. Despite working on his own in his room every day, Bill is always the first student in the studio prior to class and the last one to pack up and leave. While he continues to get great enjoyment from his painting, he approaches the process with a professional-like demeanor. “I paint every single day, and I’m always looking forward to the next project.”
Editor’s Note: Bill Sheridan passed away in June 2019 at the age of 84. This Faces of St. John’s story serves as a tribute to his dedication to his craft and his special place in the local art community.