William Taylor Oughton, 93, formerly of Jamison, a Bucks County artist and illustrator known for his paintings of nature and wildlife, died Monday, May 28, at Rydal Park in Jenkintown, where he had lived for the last 12 years.
Mr. Oughton, who was known as “Taylor,” got his start as an artist while serving with the Marine Corps on Okinawa and in Tientsin, China, during World War II. He began to do portraits of officers and realized that he could build a career around drawing and painting.
In 1950, Mr. Oughton earned an illustrator’s certificate on the GI Bill from what is now the University of the Arts. Soon, he was freelancing as a commercial illustrator for Reader’s Digest, Field and Stream, Holiday, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, Cosmopolitan and the Saturday Evening Post.
Early in his career, he drew from scenes of the Old West for many of his illustrations, but later he turned to the natural world, rendering it in watercolors and acrylics, his son Robert said.
Mr. Oughton’s philosophy of art, which he spelled out on the James A. Michener Art Museum website, was simple – he was searching for the uniqueness of all things.
“Seldom is anything ever the same as anything else,” he wrote. “There can only be a relationship when there is difference. Welcoming difference is what life and painting deal with.”
In 1947, he married Betty Kaufmann, one of his two high-school sweethearts. The couple had three children. He supported them through the late 1980s with freelance assignments from Pennsylvania Game News, Standard Plastics, the Saturday Evening Post, Sports Afield, Pfizer, and the Franklin Mint.
At the same time, he taught at the Hussian School of Art and Bucks County Community College. He lectured widely and mentored younger artists.
After his wife went to work as a nurse in the mid-1970s Mr. Oughton began experimenting with acrylics to depict landscapes and wildlife in Bucks County. Humans, though, did appear in his work. His art was displayed in many local galleries and garnered numerous awards.
Onion Snow, an acrylic dating from the 1980s, shows an African American man against a snow-flecked field. He called the painting his best work, his son said. It and six other paintings are in the collection of the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown.
Born to Robert and Elizabeth Oughton in Glenside, he graduated from Abington Senior High School in 1943, and while there, received varsity letters in swimming and track.
After the death of his daughter, Robyn, in 2003 and his wife, Betty, in 2006, Mr. Oughton moved to Rydal Park in Jenkintown, where he married Helen Lutz, another high-school sweetheart.
Before he moved to Rydal Park, he had a showing of his work there. “As he was putting up his work, he saw Helen and knew her instantly,” his son said.
He continued to paint and sketch at Rydal for several years until his memory failed. His life’s work includes 6,000 drawings and paintings.
A son, Woody, died in 2015. In addition to his son and his second wife, he is survived by a sister, four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A memorial gathering will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 11, at Rydal Park’s main auditorium, 1515 The Fairway, Jenkintown. Burial is private.