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Gary Wigman McHenry Watercolor

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cHenry artist Gary Wigman attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he was fortunate to study under the late Irving Shapiro – a distinguished fine artist and watercolor painting instructor at AAA from 1945 to 1994. 

“His direction, patience and guidance instilled a love for the [watercolor] media,” Wigman says of Shapiro. 

Leaving the Academy in the late 1960s, Wigman was hired as an art apprentice at a downtown Chicago studio, where he began to study technical illustration. After a year and a half at the studio, he fell on hard times during a short-term recession, which cost Wigman his job – like so many other artists at the time.

“I tried in vain to find another position in the field, but was unsuccessful,” he says. “On a dare, I tested for law enforcement in Chicago. I discovered shortly that a career in law enforcement was infectious.” 

So, Wigman changed careers, and took the Oath of Honor for McHenry law enforcement. After 32 years, he retired as deputy chief in 2006. 

While retired, and hoping to get back into art, Wigman met David R. Becker at the Studio Art School in McHenry. Becker’s technique had a remarkable resemblance to that of Shapiro, Wigman recalls. 

“I discovered my suspicions were correct; [Becker] had graduated from the [Academy of Art], as well, and studied under Irving Shapiro,” Wigman says. “As an instructor at the studio in McHenry, [David R. Becker] challenged me to return to watercolor – and the rest is recent history.” 

► To view more of Wigman’s work, visit www.garywigman.com.