Those walking the streets during Main Street Mania may have noticed Virgil Penner in his shop, sitting before an easel as he composed yet another work of art to join those on the wall already.
“I’ve been doing artwork since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I think,” he said. “It basically came naturally.”
While attending Newton High School, Penner began taking art classes. It was there that he began working with paint for the first time, and his artwork suddenly extended beyond pen and ink drawings. He carried this newfound skill on with him through college and even a few years after. However, work eventually forced him to take a break as time for his artwork soon became scarce.
“Basically, I painted a few years after college, and then I quit,” said Penner. “But I did pen and ink drawings, primarily because you can work on a pen and ink drawing for a short period of time, and you can just start and leave, whereas painting, you have to have a longer period of time to paint.”
For over 40 years, Penner continued this, creating pen and ink drawings of significant buildings in Harvey County — and beyond.
Penner’s work includes the former Post Office building in Newton, North High School in Wichita, and structures in Hutchinson, among many other remarkable pieces of art.
“A lot of those ink drawings have been of people’s homes, special buildings and so forth that people wanted an original drawing of,” he said.
His artwork is composed differently than that of many other artists, however.
“Most of my pictures are not of photographs; I just put them together,” he said. “I’ve got sketchbooks at home with hundreds of pictures. I just sit down at the couch, scribble, and start developing a picture or something.”
In 2008, Penner began painting again. His work is now on display in his own shop in Newton. Those interested can view Penner’s work at Acrylic Art by Virgil Penner, located at 617 N. Main Street, Newton, directly south of Etcetera Shop. Call Virgil Penner at (316) 283-3948 to set up an appointment.