In his eight-year career as a contractor superintendent, Don Huckaby has driven through every state in the country. And throughout his travels he’s sketched bridges, towns, cities and more – seemingly taking pieces of the country along with him wherever he goes.
“It was quite a trip,” Huckaby said laughing. “I saw a lot of stuff.”
Now as he readies to present his work to the public for the first time in years, he reflected on his travels and a long 76-year life that has led him to Sinton, where he now calls home.
A road long traveled
“I need to relax a little bit,” he added. “I’ve been running around like crazy trying to get ready for this show.”
The show he’s referring to will be held at the Sinton Chamber of Commerce building on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. where he will also be in attendance.
Huckaby said he started drawing around the age of four and drew a lot before school, work and life all got in the way.
Or perhaps work paved the way.
“As a superintendent contractor, I ended up going all over the nation doing commercial work for different contractors,” Huckaby recalled.
“In all those travels I had spare time on the weekends and afternoons, so I would just go out in the country or the city – wherever I felt it would be interesting – and take a photograph and do a sketch which I did in a motel room because you can only watch so much TV by yourself.
“I thought about getting back into oil painting but you can’t really be clean with oil paints in a motel room, so I started with pencil and I bought a sketch book.
“And that turned into another sketch book and another sketch book and in that seven or eight years of travel I filled up around 20 sketch books and I pulled from that for my drawings.”
The long road to Texas
Back before he was a traveling artist and after graduating college in 1966, Huckaby joined the Navy before he could be drafted and spent five years serving our country. When he left the service he was in an art gallery in the small town of Ferndale in California and bought it, selling his art along with other artists on consignment.
“Then a son came along and he was too far from his grandmother so we moved back to Texas,” Huckaby said.
“I was told by an artist that knew, he said if you want to sell your stuff and you live in South Texas you need to be following the three B’s – beaches, boats and birds.
“Nobody wants a drawing of the bridge across the Charles River in Boston in South Texas.
“So when I finally got to the point where I really couldn’t work, I started doing the South Texas stuff and it just turned out to be really easy for me to get into it and make it special.”
He recalled a trip he took to visit his mother in Richardson, near Dallas, where he said he took the long way around to get there and a different long way around getting back home.
“I took a lot of pictures and made a lot of sketches and got some South Texas stuff in addition to some Central Texas stuff,” he said.
Hand of God
Huckaby said that people are blown away by some of his sketches, but he can’t take all the credit. He said the glory belongs to someone a little higher up.
“I praise God that He gave me the ability to do just about anything I wanted to do with my hands,” Huckaby said. “And that’s the core of it right there.”
He’s done everything from sculpting to oil painting to making furniture and home remodeling over the years, but never stepped too far from creating works of art.
One lasting piece
Huckaby said he only has one piece of art that has lasted since his days in college which is interestingly a sketch he did of himself as a young man.
“When I went to college they had a commercial art department at Lamar University, which wasn’t a university at the time, it was a technical school.
“The only thing that I have from college was memorable is I did a little sketch of myself.
“It’s a tiny little thing that is probably not two inches tall.
“It’s just me and wearing my jacket and my tie in my sunglasses. Just a little one-line drawing.
“And I’ve had it all this time.
“And now it’s on my business cards.”
The good life
While Huckaby isn’t sure exactly who informed the Sinton chamber of his artwork, which eventually led to his new gallery show, he is pretty thrilled about the event.
“Oh yeah, it’s been awhile,” he laughed. “I’m excited that I’m able to share my work.”
His show will feature work he’s done all over the country as well as his newfound love of South Texas.
“Now, I just drive the backroads and look at interesting stuff like South Texas ranches, farms and those old rusty tractors that everyone displays,” he added. “I screech to a halt when I see one.
“A lot of my stuff now is Texas.
“And just to get my work out there again and all of this is very special to me.”