COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- For most of his life, a Colonial Heights man has put his talents to paper and canvas. Over the past decades, his talents have been shared across the country.
However, his passion isn't just in his artwork.
Henry Kidd is a historical artist. A couple of years ago, he got the key to a place to practice his craft.
"I thank the Lord for having this art gallery now. I've got a place to go every day, doing what I love to do," Kidd said.
Henry, now 71, is retired. He worked at Phillip Morris for 30 years, always finding a time for his passion for art.
"I have been drawing all my life," Kidd said.
The seed for his enduring passion was planted by a close family member.
"I would talk to my grandmother about her father who was a Civil War soldier," Kidd recalled.
That's how many people in Central Virginia would come to know and view his paintings.
"For 20 years, I did nothing but the American Civil War, trying to honor men from both sides of the war," Kidd said.
However, there is more to the artist than Civil War depictions. At age 17, inspired by the first moon landing, Henry spent six months painting.
"I did a painting of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon and I was happy to say at the 20th anniversary of them landing on the moon, I met Buzz Aldrin and he actually signed my painting for me," Kidd said.
It's chance encounters like that throughout his artistic career that have shaped his work.
Another significant memory was the time he met a man who helped him obtain a Vietnam-era bunk from a U.S. Naval Ship which then turned to military stretchers.
"The first one I did was actually a Vietnam-era piece," Kidd said. "The second one I did was my World War II piece and this was Normandy, D-Day, June 6, 1944. Everywhere I pained the sand, I had sand that I collected from Omaha Beach and when the paint was wet, I sprinkled sand on the beach to make it have a part of the battlefield on there."
But those chance encounters can carry a lot of weight with them, like when a visitor at the shop spotted a certain stretcher.
"She saw the medic holding the wounded man's hand and she said, my father was a medic during Vietnam and he told me that sometimes, the only thing a medic could do for a wounded soldier was to hold his hand. And that gave me chills to hear that," Kidd said.
Then there was a chance encounter with a Marine who saw action in Iraq. Their conversation about a sniper was the inspiration for his third stretcher.
"There was a young Iraqi boy that was clinging to his leg for safety and I think that image of the Iraqi boy clinging to the leg of an American soldier says volumes about the moral character and spirit of our fighting troopers today and all through history," Kidd said.
There are also paintings that originated from Kidd's own experiences.
"You see my Michelangelo's David. I went to Florence to see the statue and I can tell you, was moved emotionally," Kidd said. "For me, being an artist, Michelangelo's David is the epitome of all artwork."
Leaving war and art masters behind, Henry also spent time in a carousel phase.
"Well, this is an image I had in my mind for a long time," Kidd.
One is about the old west, the second is a stagecoach, the third is inspired by Star Wars and the fourth features a classic show - the Andy Griffith Show.
"There are more than 25 episodes represented in this carousel here," Kidd said. 'There is one place you can go to that will always put a smile on your face and you forget all your troubles and that's Mayberry."
His love affair with the show resulted in a close encounter with the actress who played Thelma Lou in 2017.
Kidd had the chance to present her with a signed print of Barney and Thelma Lou.
"The number one print of 500. This is it. I will cherish this forever," Kidd reminisced. "She not only signed it, she wrote a love note to Barney as if she was Thelma Lou. Had it hanging in her house as one of her prized possessions."
After her death last October, her possessions were auctioned off online for charity. Eight unique bidders bid a total of 65 times for the print Henry gave her.
"The gavel came down at $6,500. It was the most expensive item of anything in Betty Lynn's estate," Kidd said. "I'd love to find the second runner up to tell them I've got prints available on sale for $20."
With hundreds of paintings and drawings to his credit, there is one that is his pride and joy that still brings tears to his eyes.
"Depicts the Trade Centers, how we'll remember them," Kidd said.
Prominent to the drawing are the police officers and firefighters. The piece was started and finished within a month of the terrorist attack on 9/11.
"As people are rising out of the Trade Center trying to escape, these men and women were going into the building to try and save people and that so moved me," Kidd said.
He was so moved that he drove to New York and donated prints to the firehouses and the response of firefighters who survived that day.
"They put me on their fire truck and took me down to Ground Zero and escorted me through," Kidd said.
Henry would sell the prints, raising $25,000. He donated the money to New York City's Police and Fire Department's Relief Funds.
"I love these guys up there, these women up there, that went through this hell."
Henry would come home from New York with three prints signed by 9/11 first responders.
"I cherish these almost more than I do the original."
Henry donated framed prints to hang in all 338 firehouses and police precincts in New York City.
Kidd's artistry isn't just applied using a pencil or a brush. He's also appeared in a half dozen big-screen movies and several television shows.