Salty in his studio.

Look around you. What do you see every day? What makes up your world?

Denzil Omer Seamon, known to nearly everybody as “Salty,” loved drawing and painting exactly what he saw around him. When he was little, he’d draw pictures to send along with the letters his parents sent to Salty’s older brother, who was fighting in World War I. From then on he just kept on drawing!

Salty himself served more than three years in the Army during World War II. He spent this time in various places in the Pacific Ocean including Australia, Japan, New Guinea and the Philippines. Even while he was a soldier, Salty kept drawing. He painted fellow soldiers, the places he saw, and native life in the islands.

Life as an artist

When Salty returned from war, he moved with his wife Polly and his stepson Edgar to a little house in Rosedale, Indiana, a little bit north of Terre Haute. There, he had a studio where he could live as a freelance artist. (“Freelance” means that you work as your own boss instead of as an employee for a company.) In his studio, he spent his days painting — you guessed it — all of the things he saw around him. Sometimes he painted what he wanted to, and sometimes he painted on commission, where a person or organization would pay him to paint something specific. He painted covered bridges, the Wabash River, winter scenes, and buildings like high schools, churches and city buildings.

Salty spent his days doing what he loved to do. He helped people see the things they saw every day with new, appreciative eyes. Near the end of his life, when he was in his 80s, he said, “There is never a day goes by that I haven’t thought this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

How can you look around you in a new way?