Queen Anne man almost an accidental artist

Bill Evans didn't start out to be an artist. In fact, he got a degree in architecture from the University of Washington in 1960 and worked in the field for a few years, he said.

But then Evans got married, spent a year living like a hippie and traveling around Europe with his wife, he said, and discovered his true calling. The couple averaged 30 to 40 miles a day in a used van they bought, and Evans started doing drawings and sketches at each stop, he added. "And I decided that was what I wanted to do."

Still, Evans didn't completely abandon his architectural underpinnings went he got back to the States; he just took it in a different direction. "I started an architectural illustration business," he said.

Working with watercolors, Evans was also one of the early architectural illustrators in Seattle, he added. "Most major buildings in Seattle up until 10 years ago, a lot of those are mine," Evans said of his illustrations.

Although he's cut back on the illustration business, Evans said there is still a market for his work. There's a reason. "They don't teach them how to draw anymore," he said of architectural students.

But Evans branched out again around a decade ago and started making pottery at Pottery Northwest on First Avenue North just south of KeyArena. "It changed my life just being down there," he said.

Evans became a faculty member at Pottery Northwest a couple years later and these days he's also a guest artist there. "And more and more I got into the sculptural aspects of these things," Evan said.

His sculptures include figures of people and animals, both of which have definite personalities. Evans starts out with basic forms when he works on a piece, and their personalities start to emerge about halfway through the process, he said. "And that's when it gets exciting," he grinned.

His sculptures have been featured in books, he's got some awards under his belt, and Evans has mounted a number of shows over the years. They have included ones at Pottery Northwest, at Queen Anne's Fountainhead Gallery and most lately at the Sisko Gallery at 3126 Elliott Avenue.

The show at Sisko is about half animals and half figures of people. Two of the figures were developed from sketches he did at Pesos in Lower Queen Anne. One of them is an attractive waitress who was watching TV, while the other is an elderly man who is looking at her, Evans said. He wasn't the only one; almost all the men in the bar were looking at the woman, something she was keenly aware of, Evans said.

He uses photographs for his animal sculptures with the exception of one time when a dog posed for him and his students at Pottery Northwest, Evans said. "All we had to do was feed him a bit."

Evans sold two of his sculptures the first night of the show at Sisko, and those aren't the only ones he's sold over the years. But sales are a secondary consideration for him, he said. More important is the process of making art, Evans explained. "I've never been into marketing."

A strong work ethic is also key to his art, and he spends almost all his time at Pottery Northwest, Evans said of days that are generally 12 hours long. Evans prefers to work on art he likes, he said, adding that it's an attitude that doesn't always mesh with the politics of galleries. "I really, really want to like what I make," Evans went on to say. But learning how to make art is also a kick, he said.

The show at the Sisko Gallery continues through Feb. 23, and it also features paintings by Chris Kroehler.

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at rzabel@nwlink.com or 461-1309.

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