“I’ve been tinkering with art, drawing and sketching since elementary school, but I guess I started seriously painting a little over 40 years ago,” he recalled. “It was 1968. Well, this young fellow, he was John Singer Sargent wannabe. He turned out to be a frustrated artist, and he had, like, this military footlocker, and it was just totally full of oil paints and brushes; and all kind of art supplies and all that. He just got frustrated and he just gave it to me, just gave me this footlocker full of stuff.”
The supplies turned out to be a treasure trove.
“I guess in the 60s, it was pretty close to a thousand dollars worth of stuff. That was when a tube of oil paint was $8 apiece. Not now, though,” Shuck said. “I found myself with all this stuff and I said, ‘well, I might as well take a shot at it.’ I always had sort of a knack for it. It took off pretty good.”
Shuck said he sneaked his first efforts into the trash before anyone could see them, but he kept practicing and he began to succeed. During the 1960s, he worked in Detroit’s automotive factories before returning to West Virginia in 1972.
“That’s when I started painting around here. I had been painting in Michigan for a couple of years. I’d say it started in ‘68. I came back here and started painting and it kind of caught on. I think Kim having that restaurant helped a lot because I’d hang my paintings on the wall and got more exposure than I would have otherwise,” Shuck recalled. “People would see my work and like it, and word got around. Now I have people commission formal portraits and stuff like that.”
The portraits cover a wide variety of people. Some are of local dignitaries. Shuck painted one of former Judge John R. Frazier of Mercer County when he retired; it now hangs at the Mercer County Courthouse. Another shows Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower congratulating Staff Sgt. Junior Spurrier of Bluefield for receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II. It now hangs at the Those Who Served War Museum at the Memorial Building in Princeton.