WILLIAM C. MORRIS
Bill Morris wasn't the first
youngster to receive a whipping for drawing on the walls of
his parent's house, but he is certainly one of the few who
continued to develop those artistic inclinations to the point
of becoming a full-time professional artist.
William Curry Morris, Jr., the
youngest of the four children of Norma and William Morris,
Sr., was born on June 8, 1945, in Mobile, Alabama. His interest
in natural history during his early years was nurtured mostly
through books on birds and animals. Being raised in downtown
Mobile, there was little opportunity for him to roam the fields
and woods of the countryside as so many of the more successful
wildlife artists have done. His favorite book as a child was
BIRDS OF AMERICA by John James Audubon. His fascination with
it was such that he made pencil drawings of virtually every
plate in the book.
In spite of his interest in art
and the outdoors, he decided to become an engineer and after
graduating from high school, enrolled at the University of
South Alabama. From there he went to work for Chevron Oil
as an engineering technologist. While at Chevron, a friend
introduced him to Joanne Collins, a young lady who was working
as a secretary for the local office of Bell Telephone Company.
The chemistry was right; a little more than six months later
they were married.
Soon after their marriage, Bill
and Joanne decided to build their own house. They did such
a fine job of it that others began to seek out Bill to build
their houses for them. One house led to another and soon Bill
found himself out of Chevron and into the home building business.
The only contact Bill had with
art while at Chevron were caricatures now and then of other
Chevron employees. However, just prior to his departure from
Chevron, a co-worker bought a set of paints and began painting
seriously. Bill was intrigued by the work his friend was producing
and after leaving Chevron, the magnetism of the world of art
began pulling very strongly on him.
One afternoon, he went to an
art supply store and bought a set of watercolors. Never having
used watercolors, his technique was less than ideal and his
first attempt turned into disaster. His second attempt made
up for any disaster that could have preceded it. He created
a painting of the legendary Alabama football coach, "Bear"
Bryant talking to one of the players on the sideline.
In the weeks that followed, so
many of the people who viewed the painting wanted copies for
themselves that Bill decided to publish a limited edition
of 1,000 prints. To make a long story short, all 1,000 prints
sold in four weeks.
Not one to tamper with success,
Bill selected for his next painting the goal-line stand that
the Alabama football team made against Penn State in the Sugar
Bowl that year. Again, he decided to publish a limited edition
of 1,000 prints. THE PRESS REGISTER, the Mobile newspaper,
featured Bill and the painting, GOAL LINE STAND, on the sports
page of the Sunday edition just prior to Father's Day. The
result: the original sold for $10,000 and all the prints were
sold in two days.
It is difficult to imagine that
with such a meteoric start that things could get better. But
better they got. He entered the Mobile Art Association show
and won first place; in the Southern Wildfowl Festival in
Decatur he took first, second, and third place; and then he
took second place in the Alabama Duck Stamp Contest for 1983.
He then won the 1984 Alabama Duck Stamp Contest and topped
that by capturing the granddaddy of them
all . . . the 1984 Federal Duck Stamp Contest.