Archive for June 22nd, 2011

I really like self taught artists. I identify with these people who are usually living lives far removed from the world of art but who feel a compulsion to express something within them and create.  There’s something very pure in this work that transcends the lack of sophisticated technique and extensive artistic education.  In fact, it’s this very absence of these things that gives the work its purity.  It is a raw and often powerful synthesis of what these artists observe– something that can’t be taught.

One such powerful artist was William Hawkins who was born in Kentucky in 1895 amd died in 1990, in the Columbus,  Ohio area where he lived most of his life.  Most of his paintings are recognizable by his name and birthdate and birthplace emblazoned across the bottom.  But more than that,  his works were noted because they were diverse and always interesting, with their bold strokes and strong imagery.  The more pieces of his I see, the more I really see his strength as a painter and as observer of his and the greater world.

The Foundation for Self-Taught American Artists, one of my favorite sites and one that I’ve mentioned here  before, has produced a short film, which can be seen at the bottom of this post, that shows Hawkins at work in the late 1980’s.  It gives an interesting insight to the works and his process.  You can find more about Hawkins at their site and at a number of other sites.  Take some time and look at the images.  Find the rhythm in the slashing stokes and get to what Hawkins was seeing as he painted.  You’ll begin to appreciate that purity of which I spoke.

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