Local artist captures South Baldwin’s fading landscape

By Jason James
Staff Writer
Posted 7/25/07

FOLEY — Ever dream of retiring to do what you love to do? Well, that’s just what James Stallworth, a retired deputy sheriff, is doing on a daily basis.

Stallworth and his wife, Ruth Ann, operate Nautical Artistry from their home. Many of his …

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Local artist captures South Baldwin’s fading landscape

Posted

FOLEY — Ever dream of retiring to do what you love to do? Well, that’s just what James Stallworth, a retired deputy sheriff, is doing on a daily basis.

Stallworth and his wife, Ruth Ann, operate Nautical Artistry from their home. Many of his pen-and-ink drawings showcase Gulf Coast scenes that are quickly disappearing.

Stallworth, a Mississippi native, says he spent much of his childhood growing up in the Panama Canal Zone.

Upon graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy to become a photographer. Stallworth would begin his career in law enforcement as a photographer for the Charleston, W.V. Police Department, following five years of active military service.

He reached the rank of sergeant before relocating to Baldwin County in 1981 to care for his father who had fallen sick.

“I spent the next year physically building our home on the Bon Secour River,” said Stallworth, who discovered his talent for sketching while living there. “In 1984, I went to work for George Nelson, a duck carver in Foley, who taught me the art of wood burning. My brother made me an adjustable wood burner that allowed me to make wood-burned drawings with lines as fine as a razor blade,” Stallworth said.

It’s from that hobby, he says, he discovered he could draw.

“I began drawing scenes around the fishing and shrimping community of Oyster Bay, which is where we lived,” Stallworth said.

Beginning in 1985, he would spend the next 22 years as a Baldwin County deputy sheriff, stockpiling sketches of the coastal scenery found right around his home. Stallworth and his wife decided to make good use of all those sketches when they began operating Nautical Artistry in 2004.

His drawings have since received attention at numerous juried art festivals and were recently unveiled at two area studios.

“I still draw everyday, and have new work coming out on a continuing basis,” Stallworth said.

Anchors, shrimping boats, crab traps and piers are just a few of the nautical items you will likely find in the pen-and-ink drawings.

It doesn’t take long for one to realize that Stallworth’s passion reaches beyond the art itself. The scenery captured in his works also happens to be very close to his heart.

As we all know, development and expansion has exploded along the Alabama Gulf Coast since Hurricane Ivan made landfall in 2004. Even Oyster Bay, which has escaped most of the growth seen in the last decade, is now attracting projects like Bon Secour Village that could turn County Road 4 West into a four-lane highway in the not so distant future.

“Any scenery in the area left unchanged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, has since been changed by growth and development,” said Stallworth.

You can view part of Stallworth’s collection at www.nauticalartistry.com, or by calling (251) 968-6943.