Nature often is beautiful on its own, but Dorland "Doc" Campbell can't resist adding something else.
The former Pennsylvania minister retired to Columbia County in 1983 with his wife of 50 years, Gay. Since then, much of his spare time has been spent in the pursuit of art, including painting portraits on several trees on the 16 acres of wooded property behind his home in a neighborhood off Louisville Road.
Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Betty Boop, a turtle, a bear, a raccoon on crutches and more are painted - and a little faded - on several of Campbell's trees.
"My woods have become kind of famous," he said. "I did all this about 10 years ago. I just thought it was something to do. Now, I get a bunch of kids and church groups that want to camp out here and walk the trails. There was a couple that recently moved in up the road and before they finished unpacking, they heard about my woods and wanted to come see them."
Campbell's interest in art started as a boy while painting stage scenery for school plays.
Retired minister and
cartoonist Dorland "Doc" Campbell stands next to one of the trees he painted on his property in Columbia County.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I would get pulled out of class, so I could help paint scenery," he said. "They pretty much let me do it all. I think that's when I first realized how good I was at drawing and painting."
After a four-year stint in the Navy in the 1950s, Campbell, 74, thought of becoming a cartoonist before he felt the call to preach.
"I've wondered sometimes how my life might be different, but I've never regretted my service to the Lord," Campbell said.
Not adhering to any particular style of art, Campbell said he primarily draws or paints portraits.
"I do all kinds of things," said Campbell from his basement studio, the walls of which are completely covered in drawings and paintings. "Whatever comes into my mind I draw."
His drawings include reproductions of Norman Rockwell paintings, portraits of Billy Graham and Ronald Reagan, cartoons, dancing bears, American Indians (Campbell's grandmother was a full-blooded Mohawk) and Biblical scenes.
Campbell gives away much of his artwork. The closest he comes to selling his art is trading it with flea-market or garage-sale vendors.
"I would trade for things that my wife would like, like snow babies, ceramic figures, woodwork and things like that," he said.
The father of four and grandfather of six said if he had to choose a favorite work of his, it would be the portrait of Jesus painted on one of his trees.
"I can see it from my back porch or back window. You can't miss it," he said. "And when I look over the yard and see it, it always reminds me of how blessed I am and not to take anything for granted."
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