The beaches of Highway 30A became a refuge for Moody during Covid 19 as it was a welcome change of venue during the long period of isolation as well as a source of painting inspiration. Moody works from photographs and often takes a series when he travels. While at his drawing board in the studio, he surrounds his watercolor paper with these photos and starts with a wash. He rarely sketches before painting unless he’s doing a tight rendering that requires accurate scale. He’s working on developing a looser technique which is difficult after years of controlled and almost photographic architectural renderings.
The beaches were fun for him to paint as there were landscapes as well as some interesting architecture and colors. The resulting book included over 100 watercolors although he painted many more! Almost all were painted on ½ sheets of watercolor paper, (15"x 22") and originals are now at Beverly McNeil Gallery. He’s included the palette he used, as well as a few painting tips. But it’s primarily a book of the watercolors, each opposite a blank page to be used for notes, memories, guest signatures, so that it can become an individualized keepsake. He tried to include some iconic images, but it’s really just random things he enjoyed and wanted to paint.
Produced on rich Japanese art paper, the sort that feels as lush as the works themselves, Bob Moody’s Birmingham offers 107 watercolors in full color. For its cover, Moody stood behind Vulcan, peering out at the expanse of city below just as our famous icon does himself. This overview sets the tone for what awaits inside.
Moody’s subjects range from a 1967 view of Terminal Station to Sloss Furnaces, Morris Avenue’s Peanut Depot, the Lyric Theatre, 16th Street Baptist Church, Oak Hill Cemetery, Dreamland, Bogue’s, English Village, Mountain Brook’s Old Mill, and so many more. Each image invites a swirl of memories and bursts of pride for today’s Birmingham.
The digital images in this book were donated by Moody to the Birmingham Historical Society and all proceeds benefit their mission and educational goals.
When my wife and I started this project, we had no idea of the overwhelming need for private funds to restore the great number of historic churches in England. In the course of our research, we often heard that there are “over a thousand churches over a thousand years old,” most in great need of continuing maintenance.
Unfortunately, a fall in church attendance, urban migration, high repair costs, taxation, and even air pollution continue to contribute to the decline in church maintenance and repair. Many communities have been forced to come up with creative means for supporting their churches.
Prior to our most recent visit, my wife and I read articles stating that attendance in England’s churches was a mere three percent of the population, and we assumed that the English were largely apathetic towards their churches. We found this to be far from the truth. In virtually every tiny community that we visited, we discovered that the parish church was still the heart of the community, full of flower committees, weddings, and children’s corners. Although the huge cathedrals were thriving due to admission charges, public events, concerts, and civic functions, it seemed to us that the heart of the village was still in the parish church.
Much of our American heritage is embedded in the history of these churches. The walls and floors and graveyards are filled with the ancestors of our countrymen. It’s often overwhelming for Americans to read the history of the churches but it’s certainly our history to preserve as well…
This book was done for the National Churches Trust and the first copy was presented to Queen Elizabeth at their 50th Anniversary Celebration.
While working for Charles H. McCauley, I traveled the State of Alabama and visited hundreds of churches. I was intrigued particularly by the old primitive churches and their history so when I retired I wanted to paint them to record their importance to me and others. My mission was that in some way, I was trying to be worthy of the many blessings I had received in the only way that I knew how, i.e. through attempting to paint and preserve the architectural edifices of our early churches. Through this act, I hoped that our traditions, our culture, and our religious history would receive nurturing as well.
Nietzsche said: ”God is dead; but considering the state the species Man is in, there will perhaps be caves for ages yet, in which his shadow will be shown.”
To me, preserving church buildings, even if they only serve as caves where God’s shadow can be shown for my ancestors, is my mission.