BROOKSVILLE — When it comes to creating art, Roy Williams is a guy who prefers to think small.
Forget the broad, sweeping brushstrokes and generous washes of paint. They are useless when it comes to the miniature portraits and landscapes that Williams creates.
In fact, none of the paintings the Brooksville artist has created is more than 5 inches wide. Yet each is finely detailed and richly hued, as if 20 times larger. The trick to making such Lilliputian art, he says, is lots of patience and a teeny-tiny brush.
"It's not that different than painting in normal scale," Williams said. "You just learn to zero in with finer detail."
Thirty-five of Williams' creations are on display in the summer exhibit of the Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery. Gallery director Rhonda Hancock said the additions have been a big hit with visitors.
"A lot of it's because they're so unusual," Hancock said. "But the fascinating thing to most people is how Roy can get so much detail in such a small space."
At age 76, Williams is the epitome of laid-back. After a career in the printing business, he retired to Brooksville with his wife 16 years ago to pursue his interest in golf. When he finally tired of that activity, his thoughts turned to a hobby he last participated in decades before.
After friends took him to a miniature art show in Dunedin, Williams thought it might be a fun thing to try.
"I hadn't picked up a brush in years," he said. "I had no idea if I could come up with anything worth keeping."
Starting out with simple images of things he knew he could paint, such as ships and village scenes, Williams began to experiment with textures and technique.
"Accuracy is everything," Williams said. "You have to plan your painting well because there isn't a lot of room for error. You can't be even a millionth of an inch off."
For that reason, Williams prefers to paint on Masonite board that he layers in gesso, a special art primer designed to make paint adhere better to smooth surfaces. Painting is done in traditional oils using small brushes that may contain only two or three bristles.
Williams says painting in miniature, although painstaking, is relaxing for him. His stamina, which allows him to paint nonstop for hours, also makes him a prolific artist. At any given time, he may be working on six or seven creations.
Although he does occasional art shows around Hernando County, Williams says he's not in it for the money. The theft of a painting from his booth at a show in May caused not even a ripple of anger.
"I figure whoever stole it did so because they liked it," he said.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.