He never strayed far from his home in Fayette, Alabama. He was known as a “primitive artist,” who made his pigments from scratch. We got to know him because for a time in the ’80s, my mom was his insurance agent.
Jimmy was the essence of simplicity. Until he was physically unable to do so, he’d troll around his property to find the colors he needed for his paintings. He once showed my mother where he got the unusual colors of clay behind his house (36 shades), and plants and berries provided much of the greens and hues. Once he mixed his colors, he’d paint them with homemade brushes on a piece of recycled board.
The paintings don’t look like much. Took him a few minutes apiece, at a cost of near-zero, yet the originals sell for thousands of dollars. I am proud to have some of his work on my walls. Jimmy never thought much about celebrity or art stature – but if asked, could name all seven U.S. presidents he had met over the decades.
Now we live in an age where a homeless man can walk into a public library, sign up for a free e-mail address, get a blog account, and write a manifesto that can change the world. The power of ideas, expressed simply, is unmatched – and we live in a time where those tools are more accessible to us than ever before. Even the lowliest of us.
Jimmy Lee Sudduth beat us all to the punch. He found his free tools, and the power of his expression opened new worlds to him. Let us not squander our opportunities to do the same. We don’t even have to get our hands dirty.
[tags]Ike Pigott, Occam’s RazR, art, primitive art, Jimmy Sudduth, Fayette Alabama, simplicity[/tags]