Master of Watercolor paints Bolton scene
Adjacent to a large cornfield in Bolton, Mississippi, a rig toils quietly, pulling oil from the earth. It is one of a few rigs still in operation in Bolton. At one time, there were more than a dozen rigs in town. On a recent August day, Clinton artist Wyatt Waters braved the summer heat and a few fire ants to paint the scene. The painting he calls
'Tanks a Lot' is just one of more than 7,000 that he has created over the years.
Waters lives with his wife, Kristi, in a restored home in Clinton’s historic Olde Towne District, not far from Lion’s
The 66-year-old artist is considered a master of watercolor. His paintings have been featured in numerous exhibitions, prestigious art magazines, books and on television, and the awards he has received include the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Artistic Excellence.
From an early age, Waters knew that he had a strong desire to paint, that watercolor was his favorite medium, and that he prefers being outdoors in the physical presence of what he is painting.
“When I’m sitting on the side of the road painting, many people are confused by that. They can’t understand why I choose to do it that way. And I won’t lie. It is hard to do it this way. When I am out there in the heat, or the
cold, in the rain… with the dust and the ants… all of what I am experiencing - the scents and sounds and all of it - goes into the painting. I don’t know how to explain it, but it makes the paintings better.”
“On the good paintings, there’s conflict,” continues Waters. “As I paint, I am fighting with all these elements and trying to find the resolution. Conflict makes the painting better.”
When asked how he selects what to paint, Waters said, “I ride around a lot, looking for something to paint. I always say, it’s easier to make a choice on a quarter of a tank. When I’m down to a quarter tank, it forces me to make a choice. I have been to Bolton to paint many times, and, on that day in August, the rig was what ‘spoke
to me’ that day.”
The oil rig in Waters’ painting sits on land owned by Gaddis Farms. Mr. Ted H. Kendall, III, CEO of Gaddis Farms, is a fourth-generation descendant of J. L. Gaddis, Sr., who came to Bolton in the 1870s. The
family-owned businesses include Gaddis Farms, “The Store” (Gaddis & McLaurin) and Gaddis Gin. “I was just eighteen years old when oil was discovered in Bolton,” said Kendall. “That was in 1954. It was a pretty big deal for the town. Oil was selling for about $3 a barrel back then. The first well went up on the Mashburns’ place on the south side of the railroad tracks. Several more followed over time. The oil that has been found in the past sixty-plus years - and even until this day - has all been located in the original Bolton Oil Field. Numerous searches have been conducted, attempting to find oil in the surrounding areas, but none was ever found.”
The Waters are working on a new book that has had them exploring various parts of the U.S., with Wyatt painting new works for the book as they go. They anticipate having the content ready to submit to
their publisher next spring, and the book is expected to be published around November, 2022.
“Our camper is a 16-foot Casita that we pull behind our Ford Expedition,” said Waters. “Next up, is a trip to the mountains to paint fall colors.”
Waters has been busy autographing his new calendar for 2022, titled Catch 2022 and featuring thirteen images of recent, unpublished paintings, printed on textured paper and signed by Waters. An avid musician, Waters admitted that he’s currently playing “just enough to keep his callouses,” but recording a new CD is not out of the realm of possibility.
“It is an itch you’ve got to scratch, when it hits you.”
The Wyatt Waters Gallery is located at 307 Jefferson Street in Clinton. For more information about Wyatt Waters, visit www.wyattwaters.com.