Ken Abhold started drawing when he was in third grade.
He enjoyed sketching, and his father soon provided plenty of paper for him to create his works of art.
“Dad worked at a paper mill. He brought paper home,” Abhold said. “I did a whole series of cartoon characters. I was going to send them to Walt Disney. I never did.”
From there, Abhold’s interest in the arts grew to painting.
He liked the work of such masters as Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
“The only way I’m going to get something like that is if I paint my own,” Abhold said. “I just enjoyed the quality of work from the old masters. I also picked up on classical music. I had to do something to occupy my time.”
Since Abhold was part of a large family, aunts and uncles started giving him paint-by-number kits, which he said kept him going in that direction until he got to high school.
Abhold was a student at Weyauwega Union High School the year the school offered its first art class.
Of course, he was in that first class, which was taught by Florence Oehlke.
“We started sketching, because you need a good drawing background to be an artist. We went into the mild crafts and then into oil painting,” he said.
Abhold graduated from Weyauwega Union High School in 1964.
Several years later, he was drafted.
He served in the U.S. Army for two years.
While stationed in Kansas, Abhold continued to sketch.
Describing himself as a self-taught artist, he often had paintings he worked on off and on over the course of a couple years.
Abhold worked at a paper mill, a publishing company and as a painting contractor before eventually finding his way to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fremont.
That was in 1995.
He became the church’s custodian and retired about a year ago.
The church council decided it wanted to do something for Abhold.
A collection of Abhold’s oil paintings are now on display in the church’s lower fellowship hall.
A dozen are on display, capturing his ability to paint in a variety of styles and to paint different subjects from portraits to landscapes.
A reception will be held to honor Abhold, between the 7:45 a.m and 10:30 a.m. services on Sunday, May 12.
Abhold, who lives in rural Fremont, said he has never had this amount of his work on display.
Not one to enter art shows, the only time he had a few of his paintings somewhere was years ago at the Art Barn, outside of Waupaca.
Family members often receive his paintings as Christmas gifts.
When asked about what inspires him, Abhold said, “Usually, I have a frame sitting around and a picture just comes to mind.”
He often finds frames at rummage sales.
“I like doing the landscapes. You can try painting someone’s portrait. You have to be accurate. Whereas, you can paint a tree, and you don’t have to be that precise,” he said.
Abhold continues to sketch and also does architectural drawings.
What he enjoys most is the satisfaction he feels when he completes a piece and is then ready to move on to the next one.
“It’s a God-given talent, and you should use it to your full extent,” Abhold said.