Bill was born in the town of Monmouth in west central Illinois. He has always had a love of creating art and alternated between impressing and frustrating his grade school teachers when his homework assignments were turned in covered with doodles, often with little of the actual homework completed. It was in grade school that he was first exposed to fine art via the Art in the Schools program sponsored by the local college. He still remembers sitting in his fourth-grade classroom seeing a print of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World for the first time. He was spellbound.
In high school he had his first exposure to in depth art instruction consisting of drawing, acrylic and oil painting under the tutelage of the school art teacher, Chicago Art Institute graduate Gary Miller. It was also in high school that he developed his other vice…er…passion, biology. By graduation, there was quite an on-going debate over whether he would become an artist or a biologist. After several friends and family members made comments about starving artists, Bill decided to become a scientist. Starving seemed a poor career path.
Though he attended Monmouth College as a Biology major, he still took several terms of oil painting classes from Dr. Harlow Blum to satisfy the “Arts” in his “Bachelors of” degree. Coincidentally, Dr. Blum was the presenter for the Art in the Schools program when he was in grade school.
In graduate school, Bill switched from oil painting to watercolor as by now he had moved out of his parent’s house and it was HIS rental deposit that was on the line, a less messy medium was warranted.
For the next 30 years or so life happened: (in no specific order) migration to Iowa, a couple of marriages, a divorce, children, multiple jobs etc. Up until about 2008 Bill painted fairly regularly. By this point however, his walls were full of his paintings, his relative’s walls were full of his paintings and frankly, with no commercial outlet for his paintings, there was little incentive to continue painting, so he didn’t for about 10 years.
Then in 2017, the corporation for which he had worked over 20 years decided to offer him, “the chance to seek new opportunities”. After about a year of unsuccessfully seeking a new job with periods of bellybutton gazing, he decided he needed to do something to keep from roaming the streets. Therefore, he started to paint again with hopes of selling a painting once in a while. However, he soon found that social media was a much more powerful marketing tool than he anticipated and he started having trouble keeping paintings in stock. When this fact sank in, he said to himself, “Looks like a gig to me!” and hung out a hand painted shingle and WB Allen Arts was born.