About Will Vawter

Will Vawter in his studio Will Vawter was born on April 13, 1871, in Boone County, West Virginia.  He moved with his family to Greenfield, Indiana, at the age of six.  Young Will loved to draw and would frequently fill the pages of  his schoolbooks with sketches.  Basically a self-taught artist, Vawter started doing illustrations for the Indianapolis Sentinel in 1891.  Soon his work appeared in other newspapers and magazines.

Around the same time another Greenfield native was also making a name for himself as a poet.  James Whitcomb Riley, known as the “Hoosier Poet”, was a national best-seller with poems such as Little Orphant Annie and The Raggedy Man.  In 1893, Riley needed an illustrator and Will Vawter got the job.  Over the next thirty years, Vawter’s work appeared in many of Riley’s books.

In 1908, Vawter and his wife moved from Greenfield to Nashville, Indiana.  There he helped to establish what would later be known as the Brown County Art Colony, along with other famous Indiana artists such as T.C. Steele and Adolph and Ada Shulz.  Despite moving to Brown County, Vawter maintained his Greenfield ties, and often visited the city.  Will Vawter died in 1941 and was laid to rest in Greenfield’s Park Cemetery.

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