HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - When it comes to his work, an artist who grew up in Lawrence county gets right to the point. His name is Clarence Pointer, but he's best known as, “The Pencilman,” he said with a chuckle.
Raised in Hillsboro, Clarence first picked up a pencil when he was five or six. “I never had the stick figure stage,” he said, “I went straight to drawing.”
He jokes he was born to be an artist. “I gave my mama lead poisoning at birth,” he said laughing, “I was born with a pencil in my hand at birth. It went from there. I ain't slowed down since.”
Clarence’s work caught the eye of an art school in his sophomore year in high school. He responded to a magazine ad just to see what would happen. “I won a 15 dollar check and a 25 dollar check and had my art in a national magazine. It was called Soul Teen and I did a drawing of J.J. from Good Times,” he recalled.
It was time to cash in on his talent as an artist. “My dad was bringing jobs home from work at Wolverine here in Decatur for me to do for his co-workers,” he said, “So I was making 40 or 50 bucks a pop.”
Money in the bank for a young artist. But he stopped drawing for a couple of years and almost put down the pencils for good. “I got a B in art class at Calhoun and it kind of devastated me so I felt like I should have got an A,” he told me, “so I stopped drawing for two years so I went into the military.”
During a 10-year stint in the air force, he passion rekindled. “It's what’s inside of you and you can create something and kind of see it come to life a little bit and the more you do it the better you get,” he said. “And then when you start getting compensation for it really gets good then,” he said with a laugh.
Clarence’s world is black and white. “It is but it’s the shading and tones and stuff,” he told me. He’s mastered his craft. Sitting on a bench in Huntsville’s Big Spring Park, Clarence looked at me and said, “I can look at you right now and tell what pencil to pick up. You’re HB.” “Not a number 2?” I replied. “No,” he said with a laugh. “That went out years ago.”
Clarence’s work includes sports stars like former Dallas Cowboy, Thomas Hollywood Henderson who is the first NFL player to endorse his work. Hollywood even signed the piece. While he doesn't have a personal favorite he's done, one stands out in his mind as the most significant. “The Tuskegee Airmen,” he said confidently, “cause those guys were heroes.”
But the most memorable is the drawing he did of Rosa Parks in 1993. “Presented it to her in person and got kissed on the cheek,” he said with a big smile, “Nothing's going to top that.”
Clarence calls the talent God game him a blessing. “I've planted enough seeds over the years that now, I get a harvest every day,” he said, “I'm going to be drawing until I can't hold a pencil anymore.”
Clarence is the official artist for Sports Life Magazine. If you’d like to check out his work or even order a print, you can do that by going to his Facebook page or visit his website at clarencepointer.com.