by Sheila Julson
Oklahoma City-based artist Roger Womack has a keen eye for capturing the gentle details that document and celebrate our humanity. As an illustrator and painter whose style leans toward realism, he remembers having an interest in drawing since childhood. While growing up in rural Kansas, he often entered poster contests that his grade school held for the students.
“That spurred my interest in artwork, and then it expanded from there,” Womack says. He also entered poster contests held by a local TV station. His interest in art was expanded further during high school when he attended gallery shows with his art class.
The poster drawings were foretelling of Womack’s future career as a commercial artist. “When I look back on it, the posters were a repeating theme,” he reflects. “I learned early on that you have to include a message with your artwork—that it’s more than just a drawing or a painting.”
Womack later drew briefing charts and posters while serving in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972. Through the G.I. Bill, he attended Kansas State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic art and design in 1976. During college, he designed the poster for the school’s production of A Christmas Carol.
Yet it was Womack’s time working for an ad agency, Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS), in Wichita, Kansas, where he picked up other styles from commercial and commission artists with whom he worked. His printed designs for Pizza Hut, one of the agency’s clients, were seen at the pizzeria’s locations worldwide during the early 1990s. Womack also enjoyed drawing and painting during his free time, further discovering different styles and subjects. While employed at SHS, he won several advertising awards from The Wichita Ad Club.
With new opportunities, Womack moved to Oklahoma City to work for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) designing roadway plans, a position he still holds today. The ODOT logo is also his work, the winner of an employee contest. Now in what he calls the third stage of his career, Womack illustrates stories of real life through colored pencils and watercolors. His images of birds, animals, nature and vintage objects capture the essence of what makes up our corner of the world.
“Some of these ideas I had tucked away, and I wanted to do them my entire life but just didn’t have the time,” Womack says. “I travel quite a bit, and seeing something along the road, in the middle of winter, catches my interest. Also, just nature itself is inspiring. I usually try to pick out something that’s quiet and remote.”
While his style leans toward realism, Womack prefers not to center on any particular technique and enjoys challenging himself with new artistic styles. “I also like to get involved with the research behind each project,” he says. Most of his pieces are done on commission, and each person has a story about the subject he captures on the canvas.
Womack has shown his work at local church craft shows and art festivals, and he plans to attend more art shows after retirement. At his side will be his wife, Terri, and his daughters, Kassondra and Lynnette, whom he says are his main influences. “I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any of this without the support of my wonderful family. They’ve been such an inspiration to me,” he says proudly.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.