Even at 86 years old, Independence resident George Lightfoot just has to take a trip downstairs to his basement to do what he loves.
Down there is painting equipment, the tools he uses to create some of his artwork that has appeared in books and has been displayed at art shows.
Lightfoot, who said he has been painting “all of my life,” recently donated a painting of the National World War I Museum and Memorial to that very museum.
He stumbled across a picture of the museum, from an aerial view taken by a drone, on the internet. That gave him the inspiration to create the painting using a wood panel as the surface.
“(The internet) had a bunch of pictures of it from different people,” Lightfoot said. “I like that vantage point. It was a neat concept. I went down and took a lot of my own photographs and drew it on a wood panel that’s 30-by-40 inches. I redrew the whole scene in pencil and set up the vanishing points and worked it all out.”
“I thought it would be a fun painting to do. I moved (the scene of the museum) closer than it is in reality. I wanted this to be a little bit bigger than what you see standing there and looking at it. I worked on it off and on. It was about a six-month project.”
The original copy and copyright of the painting were all given to the museum.
“They can sell prints of it in their store,” Lightfoot said. “I didn’t want anything for it. I referred them to the printing company that I use. Then they can sell them and all of the proceeds go to the museum.”
The talented artist sells copies of his paintings on his website at georgelightfoot-art.com. He takes requests from some people to paint a picture of their choosing. Some of his best work includes the Trevi Fountain in Italy, the Vaile Mansion, the Clubhouse at Lake Quivira, the Meyer Circle Fountain and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
“I’ll paint a building or maybe a barn, or whatever they want,” Lightfoot said. “People will hear about my work and want me to do a painting for them. I am starting to slow down, so I take as many as I want to take. I do about three to four commissions a year. I have about 100 paintings available on my website.”
He seemed to inherit his talents from his father, O.R. Lightfoot Jr., who was also a part-time artist. George Lightfoot was born in-home, and his birth was actually partially paid for by a painting his father created of a view of the sea.
“I came along and messed up his plans for being a full-time artist,” Lightfoot joked. “(His parents) couldn’t afford to pay the doctor, and back in those days the doctor would come to the house. My father offered to pay for it with one of his paintings, and the doctor kept it for 50 years before he passed away.”
“His wife gave it to my mother, and it’s now on my bedroom wall.”
For nearly 30 years, Lightfoot had participated in art shows around Kansas City until about 2010, he said. He is a retired engineer and now just uses painting as something fun to do and to make some extra income, so he can travel to different places around the world and invest his money in the stock market.
His first art show was at a bank in Grandview about 40 years ago, where he displayed a painting of a railroad depot in Raytown. It now can be seen at the Raytown HIstorical Society and Museum.
“My main income came from drafting and engineering, but I would paint just for the fun of it,” Lightfoot said. “Along the way, almost 40 years ago, I started selling and showing my work. Some paintings, I would just give away.”
And he hopes to give away a few more moving forward. His next project will be of the scene in which he viewed last year’s solar eclipse.
“As long as I am living and able, I want to keep on painting.” he said.