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“Movement is the thing,” said Vickery. “The wind can create sudden drama in as much time as it takes to blink your eyes. To him, the challenge was in respecting the constant interplay of nature—the sun, sky, wind and water all working together. With that in mind, he always considered himself a student.

There were some very lean years. When he opened his first art studio in Western Springs, IL in 1937, his work was highly experimental and paintings sold for as little as five dollars or, in some cases, a dish of ice cream. Early on, he supported himself as a surveyor’s assistant, a silkscreen operator, a mail clerk and a woodworker.

Vickery once said that the early years found him along the shores of Lake Michigan living in a tent and eating peanut butter sandwiches. “Many hours and many years were spent in all kinds of weather studying wave actions and the color of sky and water.”

But his painstaking effort did not go unnoticed. It was in 1951 that Eleanor Jewitt, a respected art critic for the Chicago Tribune, first discovered his ability. He was greatly encouraged by her reviews which referred to him as “one of the great painters of this age . . . a bright Winslow Homer.

Similar praise would follow, and before long, he was regarded as one of the finest seascape artists of our time. But it was never celebrity he was seeking. The two things he found most satisfying were pleasing those who collected his work and encouraging other artists to further develop their talents. Through his involvement with numerous art organizations, including charter memberships in the American Society of Marine Artists and the Oil Painters of America, he hoped to pass the torch that the “old pros” had given to him so many years earlier.

He certainly accomplished these goals, and he has left an indelible mark on the art world.

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