Beginning his artistic journey in college, Dee DeLoy first honed his skills in the unconventional setting of Disney’s Contemporary Hotel, sketching caricatures in the mid-70s. Despite having to draw very quickly for low pay, he learned the art of caricature and eventually fabrication of sets for EPCOT during his tenure at Disney. He later used these skills to start his freelance art business, Newstart Art.
Complementing his real-world experience, DeLoy pursued a formal Graphic Design and Illustration education at Florida Technological University (now UCF). He spent the early years of his career in graphic design, but his passion for illustration and cartooning led him to seek opportunities that allowed him to make people laugh.
DeLoy explained how his big break came after a plastics company in New York asked him to draw caricatures at the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami for the American Banking Association’s Bank Card convention. Following the job, he had a successful career in caricaturing for large companies. He also pursued another technique called paper sculpture which, in time, garnered many awards.
“For the next 10 years, I was blessed to win many awards for my paper sculptures, two of which I created for the Roy and Walt Disney rooms on Disney’s cruise boat, the Wonder,” DeLoy said. “I have been very grateful to use my talent in many different forms: murals, children’s books, paper sculpture, Illustrating, graphic recording and caricaturing.”
Fast forward to August 2022, a best-selling author commissioned DeLoy to create artwork for his book, “The Watchmaker’s Daughter,” a narrative about Corrie Ten Boom, a WWII heroine who, along with her family, saved over 800 Jews from the Nazis by concealing them within the walls of their home. He was thrilled yet anxious to portray the courage, faith, sacrifice, love, and forgiveness exemplified by Corrie and her father, Casper, who taught Corrie watchmaking from the time she was 10 years old.
“In this artwork, I wanted to show the love between daughter and father and their closeness in the business. Of course, other aspects in the art point to Corrie and Casper’s courage to shelter and hide many Jews from the terror of the Nazis, “DeLoy said.
His inspiration came from an 1899 etching that hung in the Ten Boom’s watchmaker shop. The etching depicted a man fixing a watch with a young girl observing him. So, DeLoy researched Corrie, her father Casper, their watchmaking shop, and their house using various online resources to achieve authenticity. He shared that his biggest challenge was representing their eyes looking downward without them appearing asleep, so he used photos of his own eyes as a reference. He also photographed a local pastor and his wife modeling Casper and Corrie and enlisted an older neighbor since the pastor’s hands were a bit too large. The art was created entirely by hand, without any digital input.
DeLoy shared how a poignant moment in the creative process occurred late one night when he, attempting to fill a shadowy space with watches under Casper’s workbench, felt an epiphany.
“I did not hear anything audibly but knew it was my Lord’s voice. And suddenly, I began to weep because He said, ‘These aren’t watches in the shadows, Dee… they are the faces of the many Jews hidden from the Nazis within the small, dark, cramped walls of Corrie’s room.’ So I drew the watches with that in mind hoping I could illustrate a real part of these precious people’s lives as they tried to survive this horrible time in world history.”
The creation of The Watchmaker’s Daughter required tenacity and constant motivation. DeLoy said frequent step-backs were essential to assess the overall composition and tonal balance. In the end, careful inking techniques, consistent use of photo references, and meticulous touch-ups helped bring the final piece together.
His journey to winning the “Best of Show” award at the 6th annual art contest was unexpected, humbling, and deeply meaningful.
DeLoy was thrilled and humbled to be a finalist. He enjoyed discussing his artwork and its impactful story at the showcase event. Speaking with attendees, judges, and the COO of the company provided an enriching experience that went beyond any expectations of winning.
“When I had the opportunity to talk to people walking by looking at my art, I was in heaven. I love talking about things that have meaning, and Corrie’s story was one of the best. I had a great time talking to our judges, telling them the stories of the Ten Booms and how I put various items in the illustration representing things that were part of their lives,” DeLoy said. “Stephanie teared up, which got me choked up too, and we were steadying each other as we both marveled over this woman’s courage. The talks with Vanessa and Juliana were just about as emotional. I was happy they were moved by what they saw, but I never thought I would be chosen.”
As DeLoy’s name resonated through the room, proclaiming him the winner, he experienced a profound mix of astonishment and heartfelt emotion. While he cherished recognition, he greatly appreciated his work’s impact on others. Thus, the judges’ choice humbled him amidst a talent-filled room.
“As much as exposure and promotion are important to every artist I know, this honor is much more than those things to me. In a little over a month, without me doing anything but just showing up, this artwork was requested by the curator of the Corrie ten Boom Museum (her actual house) in Haarlem, Holland, and now is framed and hung in that same house. Then I was blessed with this great award,” DeLoy said. “I feel something much bigger than advertising “me” may be in God’s plan for the message in this art. I couldn’t be more excited about that! I want to thank everyone at the magazine, the judges, my supportive brother and friends who came, and especially my Heavenly Father, who, without His guidance and grace, I wouldn’t be talking to you today.”
DeLoy’s experience showed how art can evoke intense emotions and prompts deep introspection. He attributes his Best of Show award to his ability to explain his techniques and the deep, historical, and humanitarian story he conveyed about Corrie Ten Boom’s life.
“Art can pull people together for a common cause or divide others into camps of their own opinions. Art is a powerful tool to reach down inside the human heart and find joy, belief, persuasion, perseverance and to activate people into action,” he said.
DeLoy advises aspirants to “draw a lot, understand their gifts, and learn how to use them confidently.” He believes improvement comes with extensive practice. “A joyful heart and strong determination are crucial in the authentic and successful creation of a piece of art. Showcasing final art is good, but revealing the development stages of the work on social media, with brief explanations of techniques, also intrigues people.”
If you want to know more about Dee Deloy’s background and the technique he used to create The WatchMaker’s Daughter, visit centralfloridalifestyle.com.
Limited edition, archival 24″ x 36″ prints of “The Watchmaker’s Daughter,” signed and numbered by DeLoy, are now available for purchase. For more details, feel free to reach out by email at email@example.com or contact him directly at (407) 403-2525.