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Picture Perfect | By Mike Ryan


On a bookshelf in George Rose’s home studio sits a framed photograph of his father. The two men had gone on fishing trips together for years but never thought to bring a camera. Rose finally did snap a few frames on what wound up being their last trip. The same picture hangs on the wall behind his drafting table. Only, it’s not exactly the same. In fact, it’s not even a photograph. Rather, the astoundingly detailed image is a photorealistic sketch drawn by Rose. “There’s a story behind most of my pictures. They mean something to me,” he said. “A lot of them are memories, scenes from my life.” The 53-year-old Fayetteville native has always had an interest in art. He didn’t really begin pursuing it though until about 10 years ago. Once his daughters started taking art lessons, his interest was renewed. Rose has been taking lessons from local artist Becky Lee for the last eight years. Once a week, he meets with her for an hour-long lesson. “Working with Becky forces me to keep doing something art-wise and that’s good,” he said. “It’s like with anything. In order to keep your skills honed, you’ve got to put in the hours. You’ve got to keep doing it.” Years ago, Rose dabbled in acrylics and oils. Since renewing his interest in art, he has used colored pencils exclusively. The results are amazing, the stroke of the pencil capturing the shadows under a boardwalk or the lines of a local landmark to picture-perfect detail. “I had never used them for artwork before. I prefer fine lines, fine details. Colored pencils really appealed to me,” he said. Colorblind, Rose has difficulty with some shades of pink and green. While those colors may not jump out at him, he doesn’t shy away from using them. “The name of the color is written on the side of each pencil, so I’m always confident that I’m using the right one,” Rose said. “They really are prefect for me.” Rose holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering from North Carolina State University. During college he worked for his father, Sol Rose, doing field survey work and drafting. The elder Rose was also an engineer by trade who helped to found a Fayetteville engineering firm that would become known as The Rose Group. But he was perhaps just as well known for his love of the Cape Fear River and the fishing shop and amphitheater he built there. Today, the Sol Rose Amphitheater is a draw for concerts and plays, most notably the annual River Show produced by the Cape Fear Regional Theater every spring. Sol Rose died in 2007 but he passed on both a passion for the outdoors and his profession to George, one of his three sons. After college, George Rose landed jobs at civil engineering consulting firms in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. He moved back to Fayetteville in 1983, and spent the next five years working for his father again. In 1988, he ventured out on his own, starting George Rose Builder, Inc. His successful business continues to focus on real estate development, including residential and commercial design and construction. Because of his background, Rose prefers working on his art at a drafting table instead of an easel. In terms of subject matter, Rose said he doesn’t focus on anything in particular. “I have done a number of flowers, and scenes with fruit and leaves,” he said. “Structures and architectural details interest me. I like the view of something up close.” People interest him, too. In his pieces, subjects have included family members, friends of the family, and people who worked for either him or his father. Sometimes Rose will just draw something that catches his eye. Because he likes his subjects to appear as they would in a photograph, he brings a small camera with him wherever he goes. Working from a photograph allows him to draw real objects with a great deal of detail. Artists such as Frederic Remington and Andrew Wyeth are among his influences. His parents also had a significant impact and not just his father. An art major in college, his mother worked in pastels and produced portraits. His father, in addition to his surveying and engineering work, did woodcarving and scrimshaw. Rose attributes his good handwriting and steady hand to him. For the past five years, Rose has entered pieces into the annual Fine Arts Festival held by the Arts Council of Moore County. He has won something every year, from honorable mention all the way up to first place. Rose has found success in some local art contests as well. Rose works in half-hour to hour-long blocks at night or on weekends. A small piece may take him 10 hours. Some pieces have taken up to 30 hours over the course of a few months. He rarely spends less than 10 to 12 hours on any project. Rose can usually find at least an hour or so a week to work on a piece, but sometimes he gets too busy. After all, he does have a full-time job and the responsibilities that come with being a husband and a father. So, for now at least, art remains a hobby. In the future, Rose would like to produce and sell more of his work, and take some additional art classes. He said that he would also like to draw some Fayetteville scenes, places in the city that people would recognize but maybe haven’t seen as art before. “I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to art right now,” Rose said. “I would like to get to the point where I can do it more aggressively.”