Jimmy Lee Sudduth


Untitled (Cow)
Circa 1986
Mixed media on board.
12.5″ x 25″

Jimmy Lee Sudduth
As a child in the American South, Jimmy Lee Sudduth discovered the secret qualities of nature’s palette when he went collecting healing plants with his mother, an herbalist, in the woods near their home. He became fascinated by the possibilities of using mud to create a variety of hues from yellows and reds to browns and greens. For staining and color, Sudduth ground grass, berries, walnut husks, even coffee and soot into mud. His technique involved outlining the design of the painting with a soft stone he called a ‘dye rock’ to create a heavy earthy line. He then put mud onto ply board and when it was dry, rubbed plants and berries into the mud to create a range of natural colors. He has also experimented with house paint.
Sudduth’s hands were his tools, his fingers as delicate as the finest brushes. Sudduth’s subject matter remained consistently focused on the local churches and house in Fayette, Alabama, local people and their animas, (including his dog Toto), and self- portraits with his banjo. Sudduth was a musician and storyteller from an early age. He worked many years as a farmhand, served in the army and married his wife Ethel in the 1940s. In his later years, Sudduth was a prolific painter, regularly producing as many as three paintings a day.