AYER — “Do what you love, share what you know,” is what propels artist Harding Mudge Bush out of bed each morning.

Bush opened his studio, school and store on April 1, 2013, 22 years after he closed his former Park Street frame shop in Ayer that he operated for 11 years.

“I love being here,” Harding said, as he hunched over his watercolor of the day dressed in shorts and with bare feet.

“I feel like I’m right in the middle of everything,” he said. “I live a half-mile up the hill from this building, I can go home for lunch!

“One of the best days of my life was when I got fired from my office job in 1975,” said Bush. “I stayed in my three-piece suit but instead of being in an office I went door to door in Boston selling my watercolors. There are over a thousand of my watercolors floating around Boston,” he said. Some of Harding’s work can be seen at North Middlesex Savings Bank, Harvard Financial, U.S Fish and Wildlife Services and many more.

“It all began in elementary school,” Harding remembers. “All the boys in my class were constantly illustrating World War II, complete with all kinds of sound effects. Because of the war, school lasted all day and we enjoyed a full hour of art every day!

“In the seventh-grade, I discovered the art section of the library and pencil drawings in the ‘how to books.’ On rainy Saturdays my friends would gather and copy drawings from magazines and books.

“In my sophomore year (1953) my grandmother, who had been paying attention to my artist pursuits, gave me a complete oil painting set for Christmas. Soon after I loaded up on books about watercolors during a trip to the library and I have been hooked ever since — and I’m 77!”

He continued, “Of course my art career was interrupted by engineering college, the army and, well, that job from which I was happily fired. Since then it has only been watercolors for me!”

Early on I studied with the famous Roger Blum at The Atlantic Union College. From Blum, “Though it has been quite some time since my teaching days at Atlantic Union College where I first met Harding and painted with him, I can attest to his love of watercolor and his passion to paint. He painted when many others found reasons not to, which is the key to unlocking the mysteries and difficulties of self expression with this difficult and illusive medium.”

As I walked around Harding’s studio and admired his work, I said, “Jeepers, I wish I could paint, but I can’t even draw a straight line!”

He laughed, “Neither can I. That’s why I use one of these!”

He held up a ruler.

Harding Mudge Bush Watercolors

“When the yellow flag is out, Harding is in.”

30 Main St., Ayer


Step-by-step watercolor classes are held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; call or visit his website for complete details. A watercolor can be completed in 7-8 hours.

It’s never too late to tap into your inner artist.