Gentry’s Savage creates art and works to inspire students

GENTRY — Over the decades, artist Cecil “CW” Savage has had a lucrative career in the art world.

Many of his works have been featured in magazines, commercial advertisements and even exhibited in art galleries around the world. Companies commissioned Savage to paint murals and many people passed by his work.

Today, 83-year-old Savage teaches art at his studio at 23911 Westpoint Road in Gentry and still creates art by exploring other mediums such as stained glass and wood carving.

A new favorite is 3D art in which Savage tries to mix sculpting and painting. It gives viewers the feeling that the artwork is coming to life, he said. One of her 3D artworks depicts a girl catching fireflies at night. The jar she is holding lights up thanks to the festive garland of lights powered behind the canvas.

These days, Savage creates art out of anything he can get his hands on. Golf balls, mats, glass and whatever nature has to offer; he will take it and do something with it. During a recent interview, he drew attention to a small exhibit of a man picking pumpkins for fall. The whole scene fits in his hand.

“Do you know what it is? It’s acorns,” he said.

Savage said he is always looking for new ways to explore his creativity.

He says that many people who met him ask themselves the same question: “Why did you become an artist?” And his light-hearted response has always been the same.

“I was too lazy to work and too nervous to fly,” he said.

Savage knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist. From his early art lessons in Siloam Springs to the University of Arkansas, where he became a graphic designer, Savage’s education would lead him down a path that would become his legacy. At one point, Savage received special recognition from Charlie Daniels, Arkansas’ secretary of state at the time.

“I was a guest of the secretary of state and had a show in the rotunda and was asked to do a picture of the Capitol,” he said.

Savage’s art studio has several workspaces for students. He outfitted each space with desk lamps, brushes, pens, pencils, and acrylic paints of different colors. The walls are decorated with decades of paintings, prints and memorabilia showcasing his art. One of his first watercolors still hangs in his studio. It depicts a rooster with two hens drinking from a cascading river.

Savage said Norman Rockwell’s works inspired his own art. His works present subjects of everyday life in an American setting. He said each of his plays tells a story within a story. To top it all off, he sprinkles everyone with a touch of humor, whether it’s mischievous kids popping balloons at the county fair or bikers at a Route 66 drive-in in Las Vegas, he said.

Savage also credits artist Haddon Sundblom as one of his influences.

Sundblom is best known for his advertising work for the Coca-Cola Co., which features illustrations of Santa Claus enjoying a Coca-Cola.

Savage used his talents for commercial art and other promotional work. Companies like Bell Telephone, Disney, Tyson and PepsiCo have used his art in their advertisements.

Savage has stated that his works are more of an exploration than a photograph in his mind.

“I have an idea to start with, but it grows as we go…throughout the process,” he said.

If someone wants to be an artist, Savage said education is very important.

“Take a lesson or two,” he said. “And I’ll go over all the issues I’ve had and how to overcome them.”

He also encourages his students to bring their art so he can give them advice and critique it.

Savage also encourages all budding artists to recognize their talents and not get discouraged.

“Everyone has a talent,” he said. “Not just me, not just someone who does things with their hands. It’s all about talent, and that’s what I try to explain to people.”

People can see Savage’s art all over Gentry at places like the Gentry Public Library and The Wooden Spoon restaurant.

Savage teaches adults and children. And her art classes are not limited to painting, but include woodcarving, stained glass art, ceramics and more. If anyone would like to attend his classes, they can reach him at (479) 736-8263.

Cecil Savage looks at various prints of his works. Many have been featured in advertisements for products such as PepsiCo and Disney. (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette/Daniel Bereznicki)


Cecil Savage presents a print of one of his original War Eagle Mill paintings. (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette/Daniel Bereznicki)


Cecil Savage displays a copy of a painting he made for a former Arkansas Secretary of State. (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette/Daniel Bereznicki)


Cecil Savage displays a copy of a painting he made for a former Arkansas Secretary of State. (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette/Daniel Bereznicki)


Cecil Savage provides furnished workstations for his art students. (Special for NWA Democrat-Gazette/Daniel Bereznicki)

Christopher S. Washington