Tag Archives: outsider art

The Evocative Art of Harry Underwood

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Harry Underwood, Flame Vine of Florida. Pencil, latex paint, wood. 36″x 42″.

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Harry Underwood, The Pepsi Principle of Refreshment. Pencil, latex paint, wood. 3’x 4′.

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Harry Underwood, Sit. Pencil, latex paint, wood. 26″ x 26″.

Harry Underwood is one of my favorite painters. I first saw his work at the Outsider Art Fair in Chicago about ten years ago and immediately purchased a piece (which was a rare occurrence back then). It’s hanging above me as I write this.

Harry was born in Florida in 1969 and currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a self-taught artist who began painting in 2001 while working as a flooring installer. Harry dedicated his spare time to working on his art, and his persistence eventually paid off. His work is represented by several notable galleries and has been in shows in the United States, France, and England.

Harry’s paintings evoke a sense of nostalgia and are slightly surrealistic. They conjure up feelings of simplicity, summertime vacations, childhood memories, and a longing for another time or an imagined place. The nostalgia is enhanced by his use of beautifully subdued and expressive colors.

His process involves outlining his painting on plywood using a mechanical pencil and then filling it in with latex house paint. The pencil marks become part of the picture, adding an extra element to them. He also layers poems and words onto his paintings, and has referred to his work as “illustrated poetry.”

“And there’s no truer sound than a sound never found from the shy, the innocent, and the unknown.”

-Harry Underwood

Gayleen Aiken

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ourmusicroomGayleen Aiken (1934-2005) was a self-taught artist from Barre, Vermont. Many of her artworks feature a family of 24 imaginary cousins called the Raimbilli Cousins. She invented them when she was a child.

A review in the New York Times from 2013 aptly describes her work:

“Carefully detailed and quirkily annotated pencil and crayon drawings of musical instruments, rural homes in zooming perspective and the inner workings of a granite gravestone company, whose raw material comes from nearby quarries, exude infectious curiosity about the world around her. There is much commotion in her works.”

Aiken passed away in 2005, leaving behind a large body of artwork, including handmade books, paintings, and cardboard figures. To view more of her work, visit the Gayleen Aiken Collection page at GRACE (Grass Roots Art and Community Effort).


Image Credits:
1) Grace ©Gayleen Aiken, From the book Entertaining
2) Grace ©Gayleen Aiken, Ye Old Back Yard
3) Grace ©Gayleen Aiken, Our Music Room