"I've never had more of an obsession with art than I have now in my life," says artist Lowell Davis, "I haven't felt this excited since I was a young man."
Davis, 61, is a design consultant with Ertl Toys, Dyersville, Iowa. Ertl sells farm toys in feed and farm implement stores.
Davis designs accessories, like drivers and people working on the farm. His Foxfire Farm series of collectibles shows farmers with names like 'Elery,' 'Matt,' 'Happy' and 'Old Dan,' all driving tractors. 'Eva' brushes sweat from her brow. 'Winter Call' shows a newborn calf taking a ride with the farmer who rescued it from the snow. 'Helping Dad' depicts father and son working at a sawmill. Chickens, dogs, cows and kids bring additional animation to the farm toy sets.
The Horse Drawn Heritage line features two figurines. One has a driver with two horses pulling a dump rake other shows driver with two mules pulling a spreader.
In addition, Davis creates Christmas farm toy sets for Ertl. 'Sparrowsville' captures the beauty and good cheer of sparrows in a collection of nine whimsical bird-house ornaments.
The Farm Country Christmas collection includes seven scenes. The farmhouse and barn scenes are illuminated, adding a warmth to the wintry, snow-covered. Animal and people complete the scene. The bases of each piece fit together to form a complete farm setting. It's a familiar setting for Davis. His childhood was spent in rural Missouri. "Red Oak was one of those places where everybody lived self-sufficiently," he says. "Everybody had a Jersey cow and a garden. Neighbors helped neighbors ... mom made my clothes from flour sacks."
Davis's work has been part of a groundswell. But he stays true to his roots.
"My artwork is real buildings, and they're real people, and they're real animals," he says. "The people are real characters that I have met in my life, and the animals are real animals from the farm. Everything I paint or sculpt has something to do with the way I was raised, or what happens out my back door."
"I like to sculpt and paint memories for folks who were raised in the country or on a farm, or just people who admire rural settings and might like to live there," he says. "I'm doing what I really enjoy doing." FC
Diana West is a writer, photographer and storyteller based in Joplin, Mo. She has written for Toy Farmer, Collector'smart, and Figurines and Collectibles.