Jimmy Ettele’s passion for drawing began long before his youngest daughter reignited that interest with a simple request one night: a note for school.
Ever since he was a toddler in Mount Penn, he loved to draw. “The walls of my mom and dad’s house is where I started to draw, and they taught me to use pen and paper,” Ettele said.
Ettele, 40, known as “The Napkin Guy” for his particular brand of sketches, drew for anyone who requested it on Saturday in the OppShop store in Muhlenberg Township. A $5 donation to Opportunity House got visitors a choice of a napkin and a drawing in marker or pen and ink. Opportunity House opened the store, which sells clothing, furniture, books and just about everything, last summer. All proceeds support the mission of the organization, which operates a homeless shelter in Reading and provides other services to the homeless and veterans’ families, said Kirsten Irwin, program coordinator. By Ettele’s side Saturday was his youngest daughter, Emma, 10, whom he credits for renewing his love of drawing. “My Emma asked if she can have a note in her lunch, so I said, ‘Sure, I can put a note,’ but I didn’t just want to write a note,” he said. He decided to draw a picture instead. For some reason, he decided to draw on a napkin instead of paper. “You do one picture and think, ‘Well, I can do better than that,’ ” he said. “Do another picture and say, ‘I can totally do better than that.’ “Emma said she was surprised to open her lunch and find her father’s sketch. “My friend was like, ‘I thought you were going to get a note,’ but he saw the picture and went, ‘whoa,’ and I was like, I didn’t know this either,” she said. Ettele, a graduate of Antietam High School, works as an estimator for Bachman’s Roofing Building & Remodeling Inc., Wernersville. He resides in Exeter Township with wife, Alicia, and daughters Hannah, 13, and Emma. He said drawing has been a hobby. “It’s still a work in progress,” he said. “It would be great if you could sit down for hours a day, but you can’t, so I do it when I can. “Examples of his artwork are on his website, thenapkinguy.wix.com, as well as a Facebook page. He drew at Reading Public Library’s Comic Com last summer and has been invited back this summer. He also put on a drawing class for youngsters at the Wyomissing Public Library. Ettele said he’s always willing to draw for local events, but his daughters’ napkins come first. “I try to do them first, because they’re for my kids,” he said. Contact Steven Henshaw: 610-371-5028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.