For the love of it | Sammamish retiree returns to childhood passion – art
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
October 24, 2012 · Updated 4:49 PM
When Bill Proby retired from a high-ranking position at a pharmaceutical company three years ago, he envisioned spending most of his time golfing, fishing and traveling.
Those dreams quickly faded for the near 30-year resident of Sammamish — but not in a negative way.
Once a young man who dabbled in art, Proby hung up his paint brush years ago.
“After college I pretty much had to put art aside and focus on my career,” said Proby, 60.
That all changed in 2009, when his wife, Marilyn, unintentionally directed her husband back to a childhood passion.
In desperate need of art for an auction at the Sammamish Rowing Association, Marilyn volunteered Bill for the task.
“My wife said, ‘Well, my husband is artistic, maybe he will paint a picture for the auction,’” Proby said.
Bill was surprised, but gladly took the challenge.
“I said, ‘I haven’t painted a picture in 35 years, I have no idea what to do and I certainly have never painted any rowers.’”
Using his primary medium, oil canvases, Proby began painting. He quickly finished one piece before he anticipated. He started on another, and before long, had four paintings ready to go to auction.
Proby’s paintings raised a significant amount for rowing organization, but it was the praise he received from dozens of people at the auction that ignited a spark within.
“They asked, where do you show your work and where is your studio located?,” Proby said. “I said, ‘My studio is in a loft in my house, it’s a little corner. It’s nothing to look at, it’s practically a little closet.”
Now, three years after delving back in to the art world, Proby is enjoying every minute.
“I probably paint 2-4 hours a day most days of the week,” he said. “It is pure joy.”
He is celebrating his first public art display at the Issaquah Pogacha. Two-dozen of his oil canvases are covering the walls until Nov. 9. The items will then move onto the Bellevue Pogacha Nov. 10 to Jan. 5.
Sarah Barnes, the event dining and banquet manager at Pogacha, has her office located near one of the hallways where the work is on display and said she hears comments all the time.
“I’ve only heard a really good response to the work,” she said.
Proby believes it’s his uniqueness that draws viewers in. All his works are done on oil canvases, but he has moved beyond just rowers. He still does portraits and landscapes, but also works in abstractions, expressionism and pointillism — a variation in style few artists take on.
“For me it’s just the joy of creating and doing the art and experimenting,” Proby said.
Those freedoms exist for the local artist in large part because he’s not looking to use his art as a revenue stream. Since starting three years ago, he’s created 45 pieces. He’s done a few commissioned pieces and sold a few to neighbors, but even with the potential for a high financial reward, Proby is hesitant to create a website or submit works to galleries.
“It is escapism,” he said. “It’s just really therapeutic and fulfilling in a way I never realized it could be.”
Of course, Proby still gets to golf, fish and travel, but if he has any advice to pass on to future retirees, it’s to keep an open mind.
“Life after work — you never know where it’s going to take you,” he said.
See the artwork
See Bill Proby’s artwork now through Nov. 9 at Issaquah Pogacha and Nov. 10 - Jan. 5 at Cafe Pogacha in Bellevue. More information: www.pogacha.com.
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at email@example.com or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.