P

hil May’s art work is nothing if not public. His  abstract paintings fill the walls at local hospitals, including Clark Regional Medical Center. He has painted in the halls and libraries of several Clark County schools, including Shearer, Conkwright and Trapp.

But his most recognizable works adorn Winchester buildings.

His latest piece was a mural on the roof of Clark Regional Medical Center. 

Why the roof? It gives patients on the upper floors of the adjacent clinic something interesting to see, he said.

The retired art teacher has found plenty of inspiration around Winchester, along with a second career.

“I love painting those murals because they are about history,” he said. “I always liked that kind of thing. In Winchester, most of the murals are about the history of Winchester.” 

One of them is styled like a postcard. Another is a montage of historic buildings around downtown Winchester. A third adorns the side of a long-time hardware store. And on, and on.

More are in the works, he said, especially for downtown. 

“I’ve been talking to (Main Street Winchester) about another mural,” he said. “It’s in the planning stages now. We’re looking for a location.”

May said he can complete a mural faster than many people think.

“I can paint it pretty fast,” he said. “I’ll spend half the time designing the mural, planning and picking the paint. I can paint one in four to six weeks, if the weather cooperates.”

When the weather isn’t cooperating, May will work on abstract paintings for clients.

“I do a lot of large abstracts that were sold to the hospital,” he said.

May said he started drawing as a child and never stopped.

“My dad was a contractor, so I started drawing houses,” he said. “My mother was a big influence because she made quilts. She would take leftover ties and pieces of cloth. They were abstract art to me.”

Born in Floyd County, May moved to Lexington with his family in the 1960s. After graduating from Morehead State University with an art degree and University of Kentucky with his master’s, May moved to Winchester in 1974 and became an art teacher for the Clark County school system.

“I enjoyed teaching middle school,” May said. “The last five years I taught elementary (students). It was a good change. 

“Now I have these 40-year-old people coming to tell me, ‘You were my art teacher.’”

May has no plans to stop honing his craft, either.

“I just enjoy doing them and showcasing Winchester,” he said. “You make it, you build it and it evolves. The last one I did is always my favorite.” §