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Artist finds inspiration in Google Maps

By Amy Farnsworth / August 18, 2009

Artist Bill Guffey's paintings are inspired by images he finds using Google Maps Street View. Recently, he painted the Angwin Vineyards in Angwin, Calif.

Bill Guffey


Nearly every day, Bill Guffey, an artist based in Burkesville, Kentucky, spends time painting picturesque scenes from the streets of London, Florence, and New York.

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How he travels there, couldn't be simpler. With the click of a computer mouse, Guffey is transported to these international destinations within seconds using Google Maps Street View.

The program, launched in 2007, provides panoramic views of public streets and landmarks in about a dozen countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. While most people use Google Maps for directions, Guffey uses them as a muse.

Guffey's rural studio is 30 minutes from the closest Wal-Mart, and he hasn't been to 99 percent of the places he's painted, he tells ABC News.

But when he boots up his computer, the whole world is at his fingertips. His oil paintings are inspired by the 360-degree horizontal and 290-degree vertical panoramic Google Maps Street View images he can see on his computer screen.

"I live in a very rural area," Guffey, a graphic artist for the Cumberland County News, told ABC News. "Here, I can go out and I can paint cows all day, barns all day … With Street View, I can find things I normally wouldn't see here."

Now, he can travel to about a dozen countries and peer into the lively streets of Paris or marvel at Rome's magnificent architecture from afar, for example. Tonight, he says that he is thinking about traveling to France, maybe Monte Carlo, Monaco, to paint.

A painter finds his muse 

Guffey wasn't always a painter. When his wife kept asking about buying a painting for one of the walls of their home, he decided to create one himself. So, off he went to purchase some brushes and paint at the hardware store. Now, he's painted more than 350 paintings and counting, and he doesn't intend to stop. In the future, he dreams of painting fulltime.

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