Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 12, 2012

Mason man combines art and nature

Jackson Adams and DJ Brummer
Effingham Daily News

MASON — MASON — A painter has taken his love for nature and turned it into a work of art.

    Jim Rhodes, 79, recently painted a 3 foot by 3 foot stump outside The Hangar Restaurant at the Percival Springs Airport. His daughter, Athena Haynes, owns the business.

    “He’s always been artistic,” said Haynes.

    Rhodes’ experience goes beyond painting trees and further into painting the forest. He’s a Bob Ross certified teacher who regularly demonstrates his skills and teaches classes to seniors and anyone willing to learn the joy of painting. Rhodes remembers his time with the famous TV painter and teacher fondly.

    “He would paint wherever he could,” Rhodes said. He was a real likable guy. My granddaughter fell in love with him. He’d carry her around on his shoulders during classes when she was six months old.”

    Rhodes shows his joy of painting clearly. His garage is filled with his past paintings, canvases lined up on wooden shelves with too many even to count. Rhodes estimated at one time he had well over 3,000 paintings. Some of that can be attributed to his incredible skill, speed and work ethic.

    “I mostly like to work outside,” Rhodes said, looking out on his lawn, outside of Effingham. “Sometimes people stop by and I don’t mind. They just like to watch.”

    Rhodes’ love of painting started early in life. He can remember enjoying painting as a first grader and being encouraged by a teacher.

    “Back then, we were all poor but our teacher’s husband worked in the paper mill,” he said. “My teacher would give me all the paper I would want and would tell me that what I was doing was good. Now, I know that it wasn’t great but it was nice and it made me want to go to school.”

    With years as a teacher and painter, Rhodes said that he has made many connections with people he has taught and others who have been affected by his work, whether it be seeing his paintings when they’ve been published or taking a class with him.

    “It’s pretty nice,” Rhodes said with a laugh. “A lot of people say ‘I know you you painted with me 25 or 30 years ago.’ I say I’m still doing it, just maybe a little faster. “

    Rhodes impressive talent hasn’t stopped him from giving back to the community. More than anything, he said that he hopes his lessons instill the pleasures of painting.

    “It’s just for the joy of doing it,” he said. “It’s just the joy of painting. I’ve given a lot of lessons away to people who just want to do it and don’t have the funds but they want to paint. I figured that’s probably worth it.”

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.