Talented local resident Max ‘Ginty’ Howison has had a passion and talent for drawing for almost 91 years.
While his work is widely known locally, Max said he has never looked to publicise or financially benefit from his incredible talent.
Described by those who know him as “a very modest and unassuming man”, Max is entirely self taught.
In an interview with The Cobar Weekly last week Max recalled being able to draw reasonably well even before he started school.
“My mother was a pretty gifted artist and used to paint with a pen, one stroke at a time and the end result was something like a three dimensional picture,” Max said.
“I never bothered with a pen, that was too slow for me.”
Max said he preferred to do pencil sketches but also later did some pen sketches and a few paintings.
Max was born in Broken Hill in 1926.
“They tried to educate me in Parkes but didn’t make much of a job of it,’ he joked.
“I used to draw with white chalk on the blackboard at school. It seemed to impress the teachers as they would go and get other teachers to come and have a look at it.”
Max’s father gave him the nickname Ginty.
“I believe it was because of some of my childhood antics. It was after Paddy McGinty’s goat. (An Irish comic song written in 1917).
“I’ve always got ‘Ginty’, I rarely got Max and never in Parkes at school. Even the teachers called me Ginty.”
At “16 and a few days” Max joined the army in 1942.
“I was medically B Class so I couldn’t go overseas so they sent me to Darwin.”
After the war Max said work was hard to find and that’s how he ended up in Cobar.
He worked at the Occidental, Chesney and CSA mines as a tracer and he was lucky that drawing was part of his work.
Cobar was also where he met and married the love of his life, local girl Dottie Higgins.
Max said drawing has always been a hobby but he doesn’t really have any favourite subjects.
“I’ve drawn anything and everything over the years,” he said.
“I’ve never exhibited my work and very rarely sold it but given it away,” Max said.
Over the years Max’s pictures have been displayed at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club, the Cobar Memorial Services Club, the Cobar Rugby League Clubhouse and more recently at the Lilliane Brady Village where he’s lived for the past few years since the death of his wife.
Many of Max’s pictures and paintings of horses, birds, flowers and various portraits and sketches of local buildings adorn his work desk and the walls of his room.
Max draws his pictures from real life and also from photos.
He’s currently working on reproducing a picture of the Queen from the front page of a magazine.
“It’s not perfect, it looks pretty good to most people but I’m very critical of my own work,” Max said.
“Normally I would take a few measurements here and there and it’s just about perfect but this is just done with the normal eye so it’s far from perfect.”
At almost 91, Max said his eyes and hands are not much good these days although his hand is still pretty steady for drawing.
“I have trouble with a knife and fork but oddly enough, I can still draw,” he said.
Max said he’s not sure how many more pictures he has left in him.
“Probably not too many,” he said.
When he was interviewed last week Max had been working on the picture of the queen for two full days and it was about half finished.
“I’m trying to iron out some mistakes.
“The language flies occasionally which doesn’t befriend me to anybody,” he said.
With his art appearing on postcards, note cards, placemats and also on the Cobar’s 125 years of mining history commemorative medallion along with a few of his caricatures of past rugby league players which will feature in local author John Collins’ new book, artist Max ‘Ginty’ Howison is sure to be long be remembered in Cobar.