Through the eyes of lore
Local artist's portfolio contains sketches of area Catholic landmarks
By Susan Gloss
If you live in the Fox Valley, there's a good chance that you've seen one of Bernard Moran's
sketches. They grace the covers of church bulletins, calendars, and the walls of business and
Moran has been creating professional artwork in the Green Bay area for more than 40 years, but
his initial interest in art goes back much further. He can trace his first fascination with drawing
to a single incident.
"When I was 4 or 5 years old, a man drew a rabbit on the back of one of my father's campaign cards [for treasurer of Allouez]. That someone could capture something so realistically ... was amazing to me," Moran said.
Today, Moran is hired to draw sketches of homes, churches, and business - many of which he has been familiar with all his life. He has drawn many of the Catholic institutions and landmarks in the area, such as St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, the chancery and diocesan offices on Webster Avenue, Notre Dame Academy, and Annunciation Church, where he has been a member for 18
After graduating from St. Matthew School, and Catholic Central High School, he received his formal training at Layton Art School in Milwaukee (1948-1951). That's where he met his wife, Patricia. He returned to the Green Bay area in 1955, where he and Patricia raised 11 children and
ran his father's printing business, Moran's Quality Printing from 1965 to 1993.
When asked how he balanced a large family with his artwork and the print business, he said, "I really can't say ... it was very busy. I didn't think of it as balancing at the time, but just took care of everything as it came along."
Things are a little less busy now that his son Jim has taken over the printing business.
"I used to work for my father; now I work for my son," he said with a smile.
Although he no longer runs the business, Moran still puts in many hours at the print shop, usually working in his art studio, which is filled with sketches - some framed and finished, others just begun.
When a customer contacts Moran for a sketch, he visits the site and takes several Polaroid
pictures so he can view the subject instantly and from every angle. After the customer decides
which view he or she prefers, he considers details such as light, shading, and obstructions such
as trees and other buildings. He first sketches in pencil. After it's approved by the customer, he
goes over the drawing with ink.
Some of the more difficult buildings have also been some of the most enjoyable to draw.
"I thought St. Mary's would be extremely difficult because it was all stone," he said. "But it
turned out to be not as difficult as I thought, and I enjoyed doing it."
Once, when commissioned to draw a funeral home, he had to come up with a sketch in four
"I received a call on Monday that they needed it for an award ceremony by Thursday. It wasn't
the final and polished version, but I did get it done."
In his studio, Moran has copies of more than 100 buildings he has drawn, along with sketches
done for notecards and calendars. Moran's Quality Printing has been putting out an annual
calendar since 1966, using his sketches to highlight local points of interest.
Moran continues to draw, adding new customers and new drawings every year.
The reason so many churches and historical sites number among his drawings, he said, is because "older buildings have a lot of character. They are interesting to draw."
When he's not sketching, he enjoys golf, bowling, and spending time with family members, who have settled in Wisconsin and Minnesota.