George Buckner painted with skill and more formality than his Highwaymen colleagues, and it shows in the elegance of his compositions. His inspiration came from Harold Newton, the first among his peers to begin painting.George
Ellis Buckner (1943 – 1991)
Ellis Buckner, 1943 -1991 was one of the Highwaymen, a Florida artist who sold work out of his car during the 1960s and 1970s, and one whom there is minimal history available. He painted his pictures on a variety of surfaces which included wood, masonite, and Upson board.
Willie Daniels (b. 1950)
Willie Daniels was one of the Highwaymen, a Florida artist who sold work out of his car during the 1960s and 1970s, and one whom there is minimal history available. He painted his pictures on a variety of surfaces which included wood, masonite, and Upson board.
Mary Ann Carroll (1940 – 2019)
Mary Ann Carroll has the honor and distinction of being the only female member of the Highwaymen. This African-American landscape and skyscape painter embraced painting, like her “Highwaymen” brethren, as a way to alleviate despair from the meaningless hard jobs she took as well as the despair from seeing others labor in places such as citrus groves and packing houses.
One of the original Highwaymen, Al Black’s paintings often reflect the beauty he saw in Florida’s natural land as well as the tranquility he found in these places. Black is a self-taught artist who learned by simply watching the other self-taught artists. In 1964 Black met Beanie Backus through Alfred Hair. Initially, Black sold the other Highwaymen’s work, but eventually, his creative desire took hold, and he became one of the principal painters of this legendary group. Black liked “fast painting,” where he painted in hours instead of days, but more often in only minutes instead of hours.Al Black
Robert Butler was born in the small timber and farming community of Baxley, Georgia, in 1943. Robert spent the first four years of his life with his parents in a log cabin that he fondly remembers as an environment that perfectly reflects his African/Cherokee heritage. In 1947 events transpired that brought Robert to the community of Okeechobee, Florida. A move that must have been providential because it was here on Lake Okeechobee’s shores in the heart of Florida’s backcountry that he developed a familiarity with the woods and waters that are rendered so honestly in his paintings. It is correct to say that nature tutored Robert Butler.
His professional career began in 1968. Robert honed his skills by pushing the limits of his artistic talents and accumulated a vast amount of knowledge by creating more than one hundred paintings a year. With no formal training to facilitate an inherent artistic spirit, Robert developed a style known worldwide as the “Butler style” and exemplified by a dramatically lit and romanticized portrayal of the landscape.
Sam Newton is one of three brothers—all of whom are painters. Sam, Harold, and Lemuel are renowned for their beautiful Highwaymen art. His gifted brother Harold encouraged him to perfect his style and served as a mentor to the budding Highwaymen artist. Sam focused on landscapes and worked out of Fort Pierce during the 1950s.
James Gibson got his artistic encouragement to paint from a local landscape artist named A. E. “Bean” Backus. He and these other artists became the Highwaymen, painting Florida’s raw beauty and mystique. Gibson would paint for days at a time with the other artists. After accumulating a new group of work, he would take off on the highway to sell his paintings in towns north, south, and west of his native Fort Pierce.
Roy A. McLendon, Jr. (b. 1932)
Roy A. McLendon, Jr. grew up painting Florida landscapes. As a child, Roy Jr. sketched and painted. When Roy Jr. was in high school, he and his father, original highwayman R. A. McLendon, Sr., would sit side-by-side and paint; sometimes, they painted the same specific Florida scene from two points of view. Roy Jr. sold paintings years before some of the artists who are now called Highwaymen had started painting. Roy Jr. enjoyed the excitement of creating and the dynamics of the original artists. He accompanied his Dad on trips to the Backus Studio (local artist A. E. Backus) plus visiting Mary Ann Carroll (the only female artist included as a Florida Highwaymen). The Ft. Pierce painters came together at the Backus Studio to exchange ideas, look at each other’s artwork, and socialize. By the 70s (still in his teens), Roy Jr.’s paintings were selling with his Dad’s. Highwayman artist Al Black said he sold Roy Jr’s paintings with the other artists’ works. Like other Highwaymen artists, Roy, Jr. considered different ways to sign his paintings, and for a while, during the 1970’s he signed as McLendon R. J. (representing McLendon Roy Jr.). However, early-on he changed it and decided to sign his paintings R. A. McLendon Jr.
Roy McLendon still paints but now has a doctorate in theology and pastors a church in Vero, Florida. He is also a father to five children with his wife, Carla.
Harold Newton (1934 – 1994)
Harold Newton is one of the Florida African-American painters known as the Highwaymen, along with other landscapists. These landscapists used a fanciful, formula-style that involved billowing cumulus clouds and the ocean. Influenced by Albert E. Backus, the “dean of Florida landscape painting,” the group of artists included Newton, James Gibson, and Alfred Hair. Persuaded by Backus, the 19-year-old Newton stopped painting religious scenes and took up landscapes, which he quickly taught himself to do. Gallery representation was out of the question for black painters in South Florida, so Newton began selling his paintings directly out of his car. Selling out of the car was a practice all the Highwaymen painters would follow. It was a choice for these young black painters to work in the orange groves or another menial job, or if they had any talent at all, making art. Typically they painted on upson board, a manufactured product used by roofers. They also painted on masonite and wood. Works were framed in crown molding and then sold from car trunks.