STEVENS POINT - David Appel doesn't say too much these days. Instead, he lets his artwork speak for himself.
"Oh yeah, he likes to show them off," David's son Dan said.
The recently turned 82-year-old spends his days in the Portage County Skilled Nursing Facility during his weekly visit from family often admiring the oil paintings he once crafted.
"I wouldn't call it a shock, but I didn't know he had that artistic skill," Dan Appel said.
Appel's son and daughter-in-law, Dan and Julie, first found out about David's talents as the father's 47-and-a-half year career with Copps Foods started to come to an end in the late 1990s.
"All on his own, he didn't take any kind of classes or anything," Appel said.
David Appel instead turned to legendary painter Bob Ross for training and inspiration, painting landscapes by simply watching and trying.
"Everybody has a talent and sometimes it just takes a little more time and energy to find what those talents are, but they're so worth it in the end," Julie Appel said.
Sadly, David's skills have faded as old age sets in. A number of falls and injuries robbed him of his home, Independence, and artistic drive.
"I think he chooses not to paint because it's just frustrating knowing that he won't be able to do anything like he's done in the past," Appel said.
In a nursing home room filled with pink for a day of celebration Thursday, David's artwork filled with greens, blues, and yellows stood out for everyone to see.
Nursing home administrator Marcia McDonald knew about David's paintings hidden in his basement. She offered to put them on display for residents and visitors to enjoy.
"Heartfelt meaning," McDonald said of Appel's artwork. "Every day people come and not only talk with Mr. Appel, but reflect on their own career paths. We share a variety of stories... It brings out memories."
"Just puts a big smile on his face and any time we can get a smile out of him it just makes us feel so good," Appel said.
Few words, but plenty of smiles come from David Appel's once-hidden skills, where -- in this home -- those smiles paint a beautiful picture of their own.
David's artwork is on display in the Portage County nursing home's lobby every day. The family says they'll keep some of the art work and likely will donate other pieces in the future.