Bob McWilliams still remembers the feeling he experienced after his first-grade teacher complimented his drawing of a bird nesting in a tree. It is one of the many reasons why he has always been drawn to art.

No matter how busy his life became with a full-time job in state government, wife and children, McWilliams carved out time for his passion.

“When the kids were little, I would paint on the kitchen table after they went to bed,” he recalled, adding that he eventually ended up painting amid the family’s Christmas decorations in a room above the garage. “My wife, Lynne, said, ‘You need a studio.’”

It didn’t take McWilliams long to find his dream studio on the seventh floor of the McClure Building — just down the hall from fellow artists Karen Carey and Betty Beshoar. He moved in three years ago and has never regretted the decision.

The three painters are close enough to critique each other’s work.

“We understand that if you give advice it may not be taken, but we help each other out,” he added.

Born and raised in Anderson County, McWilliams loved to draw as a child, though, he is quick to point out, his drawing skills have waned in his later years, as he picked up painting.

McWilliams has a knack for capturing scenes that have a calming effect. Over the years, he has perfected his craft for landscape painting. In particular, he loves to paint Elkhorn Creek and local horse farms.

“It’s different every day,” he said, of the wealth of subject matter central Kentucky offers. “People come from all over the world to see what’s outside our back door.”

McWilliams has captured scenes in nearby Owen, Anderson, Woodford and Scott counties. He has also painted downtown buildings and the Capitol, as well as, shots from Lexington and Midway.

An avid traveler, McWilliams shoots photos on his jaunts. Back in his studio, he enlarges the photos on his computer and starts his process, which takes hours.

“It is mind-boggling how I can get lost in painting,” he said, smiling and showing off works from Kona, Hawaii, and Key West, Florida.

When he wants to relax, though, McWilliams heads for his garden, where he tends to his flowers, shrubs and trees.

“Digging in the dirt is therapeutic for me,” he added. “You have a vision with gardening, but Mother Nature also has a say in it.”

The McWilliamses have been married for 39 years and have a grown son, Patrick, and daughter, Lindsey. They also have two grandsons and a granddaughter.

“Being grandparents is our favorite thing in the world,” he remarked. “Lynne and I are the goofiest grandparents.”