The couple have four children - Anne Gmoser of Allen Park and Janie Cooper and Mike and Paul Kuschel
, all of Taylor - and five grandchildren.
classes and supported his
wife and young family with a series of part-time jobs - gas station attendant , janitor and brush and aluminum siding salesman.After graduating from Meinzinger , he continued art study at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Detroit
.He also went to work full time as a chain assembler at Huron Forge in Detroit , a company that made the chain used to push new cars through auto assembly lines and move cars through car washes
It was grueling work.There were days Kuschel hauled around 200 pounds of steel and cut his
hands as many as 20 times.
Still , he
kept up with his
art , drawing and painting every day.He
also taught art for five years in private schools.
For more than 10 years , he
family traveled around Michigan to art fairs every weekend , staying at motels in small towns and cooking their meals over open campfires.
It was during that period that Kuschel
became interested in preserving Great Lakes' lighthouses.While traveling from city to city to paint the lights on site , he
would try to learn their history.His
research led to speaking engagements with various groups and his
encouraging local historical societies to adopt the lights as preservation projects.
In 1983 , Kuschel
and six others formed the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers' Association
on a park bench in Jackson.Today , the organization has 5 , 000 members.Kuschel
doesn't just paint nautical scenes.He
likes freight trains , barns , mine shafts , covered bridges and outhouses - all in the Great Lakes area.Although his
early work was all done on site , he
began painting from photographs later in his
probably has 5 million pictures of lighthouses , he
said , as well as 4 , 000 of his
drawings and paintings in storage.He
uses several media - oils , watercolors , acrylics and mixed medium and also sculpts.And although he
is best known for his
realistic scenes , Kuschel
also does many abstracts.
When Huron Forge closed suddenly 15 years ago , leaving Kuschel
without a job or a pension , he
turned to his
art full time.He
credits the late Heinz Prechter and Robert Taylor of Charter Bank
for opening many doors for him.
Despite surgeries in the last two years to reconstruct painfully out-of-socket shoulders , Kuschel
still draws and paints every day.His
mornings begin at the kitchen table , where he
draws and drinks coffee after feeding the family's pets and about 12 stray cats that come to visit every day.
They all have names , and each one has to be petted , the artist said.
At 8 a.m. , he
adjourns to the studio he
and Sue built in their back yard.After spraying fixative on drawings completed the previous day , he
does yard work or other chores while they dry.Then he
paints realistic watercolors for a couple of hours.
The artist , who has a little arthritis in his
hands , said he
finds it easier to work on fine art in the mornings , when he
is more rested.
After taking a few hours off for lunch and the soap opera Days of Our Lives , Kuschel
goes back to his
studio to paint abstracts , using acrylics.He
studies art history every evening and owns a large library of art books.
Kuschel's diversions are simple.He
likes to watch animal programs or the History Channel on TV or listen to music while he
likes the classics , jazz and blues , with a smattering of country.
When not working , the Kuschels attend their grandchildren's football and hockey games ; visit bookstores , the zoo , the DIA
and flea markets with their family ; or just drive around.One of their favorite stops is the waterfront in Wyandotte.