OXFORD — After growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., Ron Hamilton spent 12 years in the U.S. Navy hunting submarines and working with airplanes. His post-military career included several professions, including telephone company engineer, special ed teacher and management trainer. After “sort of” retiring in 2005, Hamilton took up painting and has had numerous works featured in local art shows.

Age: 69

Which did you prefer, the old prop planes or the jets? During the late ’50s and early ’60s, I worked on Naval World War II, Korean War, Cold War-era propeller aircraft and Vietnam-era jet aircraft. The plane I spent my most enjoyable, thrilling and crazy times on was a P2V-7 (SP2H) anti-sub aircraft. It had two jets (used for takeoff and high-speed runs) and two very large piston propeller engines. Best of both worlds. All weather, no pressurization and just plain seat-of-pants flying at 500 feet over water. Several very close encounters. I actually caught an armed Russian sub in the Mediterranean during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Made him surface and dive a few times to let him know he had been caught. Caused quite a stir for the time.

Where did you go after leaving the Navy? After leaving the Navy, I worked in Chicago and San Jose, Calif., as a telephone equipment engineer while going to college full time, raising six kids and commuting 100 miles a day.

How did you come to Maine? I moved to Maine in 1975, to raise my kids and continue my new career as a special ed teacher. I even did a stint as a corrections officer at the old Oxford County Jail. Very interesting work.

Do you have a favorite among your careers after the service? After 10 years, I switched careers to “timber framing” (traditional mortise and tenon). Built around 20 or so houses, restaurants and bars. Economy went bust and switched careers again to yacht building. Built around 30 boats, 26 to 50 feet long. Very unhealthy work — bad dust. Also did some finished carpentry on Cape Elizabeth homes. Nice, but couldn’t afford the commute.

When did you start working on art? I fell at work and tore a right rotator cuff pretty bad. I tried to figure a way to do things with my arm below my waist. So, I took an adult art class. I met Brenda Sauro at the Painted Mermaid Gallery in South Paris. She invited me to paint with her and a group of local artists in a Wednesday morning group. She also encouraged me to take lessons with Gene Fuller and then Murad Sayen doing oil-on-panel painting from photo reference. The rest is history.

Where do you go for inspiration in your pieces? I’ve been under the tutelage of Murad Sayen for three years or so. Now, these inspirational mentors and the members of the Western Maine Art Group have been a driving and motivating force to constantly learn and improve. I read a lot of art books and have gone to a few art museums, but it is the work of my teachers and artist friends that keep me focused in my point of view. They are the best, in my view. At this time in my life, I will probably travel and take more digital photos for reference (I have 20,000 now). For me, it is an unending venue to research and participate in. It also keeps me off the streets, and my wife and kids know where I am. I still ride an old BMW antique motorcycle and have just finished a garage and art studio.

Do see another career or hobby change in your future? The future? Only the Shadow knows, and as long as it follows me, I will still find adventure.


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