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 Emmitt Thames  (1933 - )

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Lived/Active: Mississippi      Known for: landscape

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Emmitt Thames
An example of work by Emmitt Thames
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Steve Zimmerman who writes: I have known the artist for over 20 years. I have several of his paintings in my collection, helped him organize the retrospective of his work at the R.W. Norton Museum in Shreveport, LA back in 1984, and personally placed over 50 paintings in collections throughout the Midwest.

Essentially a self-taught artist, Emmitt Thames, born October 28, 1933 in Brookhaven, Mississippi, progressed from a rural depression-era childhood into the ranks of the leading American realists. His youth spawned a hard working, somewhat reclusive man, who honed his innate skills for observation and composition into representational art that can accurately be described as "more feeling than formula".

His early concerns were helping the family grow enough cotton and produce to pay for the necessities of life. Fine arts were not a part of his life then and certainly did not constitute latent ambition to be a "working" artist. Rather, drawing and whittling literally provided amusement for Emmitt in an otherwise mundane youth. However, Emmitt was never really discouraged from pursuing creativity in his idle hours, but the lack, albeit, the ignorance of fine brushes and paints and all of the other artist accessories were unknown to him in his youth.

It was years later after entering the military and being asked to illustrate training manuals that Emmitt discovered some of the fine points of illustration and how better paints and brushes then available to him transformed his creativity into motives and thoughts of producing quality work. Formal art training, though, was simply not affordable when he needed it most; but his incessant drawing as a child on the blackboards and in even in his school books sharpened skills and provided a foundation upon which he could grow.

Coupled with a very discerning eye and a willingness to study books and catalogues of the great artists and a penchant to actually observe firsthand some of the great artists past and present in museums and galleries, Emmitt Thames evolved into a highly skilled artist. His young wife, Linda, encouraged him to pursue a career in fine art despite living in an area almost devoid of art schools and talented artists, let alone galleries interested in nurturing a young artist.

For subject matter, Emmitt Thames simply mined his mental diary of experiences and combined those with everyday objects and his local surroundings. Much as his idol Andrew Wyeth did, Emmitt observed and recorded without benefit of photographs his life as he has lived it. The everyday events, the commonplace things in the kitchen, in the barn, along a stream, or in the marshes have been assembled in a remarkable journey of where he has been and what he has seen. The presentation is always with feeling and sensitivity, never with formulas. The result is a harmony of composition and familiarity to the viewer, which undoubtedly accounts for the many admirers and collectors of his works.

Represented through the years by galleries in Chicago, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi, and West Point, Mississippi, Emmitt's watercolors, egg temperas, gouaches, and oils have found homes in virtually all of the 50 states. Mr. Thames has won many awards through the years and examples of his work are in museums, government, corporate and university collections as well as hundreds of private collections. He currently lives in Gulfport, Mississippi and maintains a studio attached to his home.

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