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A Real-life Storybook

At Home with William McClure, Artist and Animal Lover

At a certain estate just outside of Birmingham, there’s an environment of freedom and artistry many others do not share. Geese are able to honk their boldest opinions; pigs paint their feelings into the rich Southern mud; cows moo and chew the afternoons away, and goats perform joyfully to an ever-present audience. Meanwhile, up the driveway inside the house, local artist William McClure brainstorms his latest masterpieces — taking time here and there to admire the yard-full of animals who inspire and regale him on a regular basis. These lucky beasts trust their human owner with a depth found only in children’s storybooks; they are McClure’s creative muses, none doomed nor mistreated, all cherished and loved. 

McClure lived in the heart of Mountain Brook until about two and a half years ago, when he realized a more pastoral existence beckoned his spirit. The lifelong animal-lover said he pondered becoming a veterinarian as a child, adored visiting zoos, and appreciates animals for their unconditional love and entertaining personalities – and he felt it was high time to give one or two (or more) a home. So, he got in touch with Realtor Brooke Wahl, a family friend he knew would be able to help him locate the perfect piece of property. With Brooke’s knowledge and expertise, McClure discovered a few acres in Vincent, Alabama, where he and his animals are surrounded in lush, natural beauty.

Though McClure has painted “all his life,” his former career was with an architecture firm, living paycheck to paycheck, until one day he idly posted a few shots of his interior on Instagram and got incredible feedback. Folks wanted to know “who painted the art,” and before McClure knew it, he’d made more money than his annual salary in just five months. Today, McClure is a full-time artist and continues to create art at his Birmingham studio during the week, looking forward to his peaceful retreat at the end of each day. Along with goats, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese, pigeons and a rather saucy macaw named Sisqo, McClure has two dogs who help him run the estate: Ran, a Weimaraner who “much prefers the air-conditioned house,” and Della, a former stray who isn’t afraid to boldly chase off a snake, rat or coyote and defend her multi-species pack. 

The artist maintains that leaving city life behind for the tranquility of nearby countryside (disregarding the errant bird noise) feels like “a permanent vacation any time he’s home" and helps him be a better, less distracted artist. 

As for his animal companions, does living without fear make them better as well? One visit to the McClure estate and the answer becomes clear: everyone here is living happily ever after.