Jul 6, 201212:58 PMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
He's Got The Golden Touch As A Painter
Country music fans have long known and enjoyed William Lee Golden as the bearded baritone of The Oak Ridge Boys. But even his most dedicated admirers might be surprised to know he’s also widely admired as a painter. Indeed, he was honored with a special exhibition of his work two years ago at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.
“Music is a large part of my life,” says Golden, “but painting holds a special place in my heart.”
Golden’s simple yet evocative paintings feature rich, sometimes dreamlike images that have been likened to those in works by Claude Monet and other leading French impressionist artists. His paintings have been displayed in the Gilcrease Museum of Art in Tulsa, as well as in galleries and private collections across the United States. His original painting of Bush Garden is amongst the permanent collection of The George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.
Last week, Golden returned to the Tennessee State Museum for the unveiling of his latest painting, Smoky Mountain Spring, which will be part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Ever since the 2010 exhibit, Golden said during a June interview at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, “They had wanted me to donate an original painting for their permanent collection. So rather than donate something out of my those I’d already done – because some of those were of locations outside of Tennessee – I chose to paint an original painting which would depict, to me, a setting in Tennessee that I love.”
And that, he said, was the inspiration for Smoky Mountain Spring.
“I have the rhododendrons in bloom in the foreground,” Golden said, “and some flaming azaleas. But then you’re on the edge of a hill, and you can see the other hills as they fold away into the distance. And you can see the haze of that Smoky Mountain setting. I feel like it’s one of the better landscapes that I’ve ever painted so far. Because it took so long for me to paint it.”
Unlike other artists who spend hours each day secluded in their studios, Golden tends to take his work on the road, applying brush to canvas during his spare time in hotel rooms while on concert tours with The Oak Ridge Boys.
“We’re doing about 155 days this year, it looks like,” Golden said. “That’s 155 concert dates. Plus there’s traveling a few days on either side.”
And a schedule like that, Golden said, allows for plenty of time to paint. Which suited him just fine during his crafting of Smoky Mountain Spring.
“I’d work on it a while,” he said, “and then I’d not be happy with the direction I was going. Like, the colors would be too dark or something, so I’d take them back lighter. Actually, I kept taking it back and forth. But that gave it more texture and depth, kind of building up the layers of paint. That gave it a more realistic look in the end. Because I put in all those different kinds of colors that can sometimes peek through the hills.
“So I feel good about it.”
If you can’t make it to Nashville anytime soon, don’t worry: You’ll still have an opportunity to view Golden’s artistry, thanks to a new initiative by the Nashville-based Vietti Foods Company and Southgate brand food products. The Art of Discovery is designed to support the visual arts by showcasing various artists and their works on labels of over 30 products in the Southgate product line. Golden will help launch the program when his iconic image appears on Southgate Brand’s Blackeyed Peas and Rice.
“That’s pretty wild, isn’t it?” Golden marveled. “Yeah, it’s an interesting thing to be involved with. They wanted to do something to support the arts. And I was chosen to be the first person on their arts program. So it’s kind of exciting. They’re going to be using my image, and some of the images of some of my paintings.
“Hopefully it’s going to work out good for them, because it’s great honor for me to be invited to participate.”