Guy Wilkins was a self-taught artist who painted for over forty years in southeast Virginia and North Carolina, from the 1960's to 2011. He was a visual storyteller in a bold, expressive style. Athough a native of Virginia's Eastern Shore, Guy saw the world through kaleidoscopic glasses. Except at sunset, the Shore is a place of delicate earth tones.
In his younger days as a newspaper reporter, Guy learned to distill the essence of a story and he carried that principle into his art. He rarely did studies but would work directly from photos, incorporating dreams, memories, lines in books or poems. Whatever the source, there was always a lot of imagination involved. Guy's palette was one of the hottest on the Chesapeake Bay. Cadmium orange, vivid lime green, neon magenta. He worked intensely, straight through a painting, abstracting and selecting, making every brush stroke count. He relied on instinct for what details would tell the story. Every painting was a new adventure. In subject matter he liked to say that he didn't paint wildlife, he painted "wild human life."
Guy was fascinated with people, their facial expressions and body language. He looked for character, emotion, individuality--the quirkier the better. His figures and faces became infused with the spirits of people he knew or would like to know, the way a novelist merges with fictional entities. He collected images of people and made up stories about them. His paint-covered Powershot was his window on the world and he never left home without it.
Guy died of leukemia in late 2011. In 2012 Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center curator Gayle Paul invited him to be included in an exhibition of 16 artists, called "The Beat Goes On: Self-taught Artists and their Visionary Art." When she came to select the paintings, Gayle found one of musicians with The Beat Goes On scrawled on the back, buried in the stacks. (See photo right). The show runs for 4 months in southeast Virginia.
This website is a retrospective of Guy's work.