SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — When you become familiar with the color and labs in Jim Williams work you'll recognize his pieces instantly.

The Knightville area of South Portland has grown in the last decade. Williams wanted in on the trend. The perfect place to open his gallery, Mainely Labs Studio. The name says it all.

He enjoys painting black, chocolate and yellow labs. He also enjoys the company of his daughter's dog, Gilly. When customers walk in, they are often triggered by the labs in his work that remind them of their own furry friends.

"All the work that I do, the dogs become universal and people see their own dogs in my work," Williams said. "They'll come and say, 'that one looks just like Murphy, or Bailey, or Baxter.'"

Williams worked for 22 years as a human resources manager. A painting class at Maine College of Art opened his eyes to what color on canvas can do. The day after that first class, Williams was on his morning commute to work, admiring the September day's beauty. That day was Sept. 11, 2001.

"It resonates with me, I relate to that day because so many people went to work that day and didn't come home," Williams said.

He decided then and there it was time for a change. Leaving his corporate job and pursuing painting full time.

He's been known for his lab art at Mainely Labs Studio for 14 years. 

"If you're going to work you might as well love something you do, and life's too short to mess around with things that you're not enjoying," Williams said. "So you might as well get out there try some things, have fun, life is short and seize the day."

Mainely Labs Studio is open to customers Wednesday through Friday from 1-4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.