2019 marked thirty-five years for William H. Welch exhibiting in Nantucket, and that included over thirty years manning his own galley on island. Bill’s locations on island mostly centered around the waterfront, where he spent eighteen summers at 14 Easy Street, starting in 1986, and his last few just down the street by the entrance to Still Dock. In between, he rented a studio gallery in Siasconset. Back on Easy Street, he felt “connected to the art scene and the public after seven years out of town in Sconset.”
In 2018, Bill won AAN’s Artist/Patron Painting Award, having previously won the C. Robert Perrin Watercolor Award in 2011 and our Pat Gardner En Plein Air Award in 2012. In his last AAN gallery show, the People’s Choice of last year, Bill won top honors with a painting that fused the vivid brush style of Van Gogh with a scene of the wharves and town skyline.
Raised in Cleveland, Bill began his art career at Ohio University and later the Philadelphia College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Bill instructed painting in watercolor for AAN, and also taught for the Studios of Key West. He was a member of the National Watercolor Society and the Copley Society of Boston, and a past president of the board for AAN.
He spent much of his travels in the last decade painting en plein air in Europe, and especially at Giverny, Claude Monet’s legendary home and water gardens, where he kept an apartment near the village of Arles and was offered occasional solo exhibitions there of his French works. He also organized a painting trip to Cuba that included Nantucket artists. In the states he concentrated on Nantucket in the summer months and Key West in winter.
Bill occasionally referred to himself as an “academic impressionist”, concentrating on traditional techniques in realism gleaned from the masters. “I paint souvenirs that are special memories,” he said, “for the people that love Nantucket.” You would often see him out painting on the streets or at the Sidewalk Art Shows, usually in an AAN baseball cap.