WITH JAMES GIBSON, Florida Highwayman Artist
March 17, 2013

All photos legally copyrighted   (c)DoloresRussoPhotography2013
Any use, including copying, requires my
written permission:
Mr. James Gibson, Florida Highwayman Artist  at the Meet and Greet on Thursday, in front of one of his paintings

Mr. Gibson giving instruction

Mr. Gibson showing us how he paints

My finished painting!

Dolores, with finished landscape painting and Mr. James Gibson

My painting after the first day

What a marvelous 2 days of painting! It felt so good to be painting in oils again. It's been over 20 yrs. since I have had oil  paint on my hands, my face, my clothes...yes, I get into it.
Met Mr. Gibson at the Meet and Greet at the McDougal House in Tallahassee. This is a huge Victorian house that the arts have had the pleasure of using as their main offices and workshops. This was the first workshop that the Arts Council had sponsored and we were the FIRST adult class that Mr. Gibson had taught. There were 12 of us, most of whom had painted before. The results were amazing.
The next day, Friday, Mr. Gibson began his class with us, telling us about the Highwaymen Artists and how they came about. Then he proceeded to show us how he did his paintings using a palette knife and assorted brushes. He was a self taught artist but had the privilege of watching Mr. Backus, the then popular landscape artist in the 50's. I say privilege because at the time African Americans had very little opportunity to participate in all white classes. Mr. Backus was the landscape artist of the day here in Florida and very prominent in art circles. He was friends with everyone and wanted to give anyone who desired, an introduction to painting the beautiful landscape of Florida. The Highwaymen, so named because they would put their paintings in their cars and go up and down the highway selling their paintings that were done on upsom board, an inexpensive construction material that was readily and cheaply available, sold over 100,000 paintings.
The popularity of the Florida Highwaymen has since increased with their paintings collected by Presidents and other notable people.

The first day of the workshop we laid in the background, the sky and the horizon. We worked on blending colors and mixing the color we needed. We all painted the same subject but with different results as Mr. Gibson pointed out that we are all different in our approaches to painting. Even though we all had the same subject to paint, all the paintings did reflect diversity.

The next day we added the details of the painting and finished up by the afternoon. We had a lot of discussion about the colors and how Mr. Gibson and the other artists were able to sell upwards of 100,000 paintings up and down the coast of Florida to businesses and tourists, remembering that the 50's were a time of civil strife and black people were not allowed to do many things. Their story is heartwarming and encouraging to all artists. As Mr. Gibson said - Don't give up. Keep on painting! And paint what the people like. For us, that's all of Florida landscapes!

What made this workshop so personable with Mr. Gibson were the stories he told about being a black artist in the 50's and the other artists that were part of the Highwaymen. Their name was coined by a journalist in a local paper. They were all friends, hung around together and learned from each other. They depended on their observations of the landscape and their memories of beautiful sunsets. They have recorded a time in Florida history that can never be seen again - the environment before it was paved over with theme parks and parking lots. There is still a lot of Florida that is unspoiled and can be seen if you just look for it. It's there...

It was a wonderful experience and glad that I was able to do this workshop with Mr. Gibson. It is a rare opportunity to be part of the arts development here in Florida and the Florida Dept. of State, Div. of Cultural Affairs made it all possible and affordable for all of us.

RE: Painting Workshop with Mr. James Gibson, Florida Highwayman Artist

The following was copied directly from my email.

Florida Dept. of State, Div. of Cultural Affairs <>

Sent by: Florida Dept. of State, Div. of Cultural Affairs

MARCH 14, 2013: Meet and Greet with the Artist
MARCH 15-16, 2013: Painting Workshop

Artist James Gibson

Brokaw McDougall House
329 North Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32301

Hosted by:
Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc. and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

Painting Workshop
March 15-16, 2013
10:00 am - 3:00 pm (both days)

This exceptional opportunity will allow attendees to learn painting techniques from Florida artist James Gibson.
Mr. Gibson is one of the celebrated Florida Highwaymen and is a fourth generation Floridian. His vibrantly colored works depict the natural beauty of Florida’s landscapes in luscious detail. Mr. Gibson has created a flourishing artistic career, and he continues to be a leader in giving back through service, education and sharing his story to inspire the next generation of artists.

This workshop will offer an informal, rare, and intimate opportunity to learn from and paint with a Florida treasure.

For more information on James and his work visit:

Cost: $60 per person. Fee includes materials and canvas.
Space is limited to 12 attendees.
To register for the workshop please visit:
To pay, please use Paypal at this link.

Registrations will be accepted on a first come, first-served basis. You must complete the registration form AND pay the workshop fee with paypal in order to be eligible to attend.

Meet & Greet with the Artist
March 14, 5:00 pm

We invite the public to visit the historic Brokaw McDougall House to meet artist James Gibson and view recent pieces of his work. Light refreshments will be provided.
For more information on both events, please visit, or call 850.245.6470.

This event is made possible through generous support from Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc.
Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc. is an organization created to partner with and enhance the efforts of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, while helping to sustain and foster recognition of the arts in Florida.

This information was shared by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

Road Less Traveled by James Gibson
30" x 40"
oil on canvas
Donated for Florida Heritage Month in 2007 by the artist

This e-mail was sent from Florida Dept. of State, Div. of Cultural Affairs
Immediate removal with PatronMail®

I am a registered student for this workshop which is a requirement for my AA590 independent ar
(some of the photos did not transfer over to my blog. Sorry)

The title is misleading. Actually the plan was to paint outdoors at Lake Eola, smack in the middle of Orlando. Good plan. When I got there it was just myself and one other person. It was supposed to be a big group. It was also cold and windy. Now I know that is all relative to where YOU, THE READER,  are. But to Floridians, anything below 60 is cold. Couple it with a strong wind of 20mph across the lake and you have a very unpleasant experience.

Granted, my northern friends from New England said to "tough it out" because I am after all from New England - It didn't work. I ended up at Panera's having soup and hot tea.. Then I went out and took a few photos. Even too cold for that. But I attempted it  anyway.

 The skyline with a cloudy sky. No sun means cooler weather too. But I did aim to capture the sky and have a low horizon to show more sky than land - like the Florida Highwaymen's paintings.

 This is Orlando's famous fountain in lake Eola. Very pretty and shoots water high into the air. Today it was very low because of the wind factor.
 The flags were straight out with wind but when I snapped this shot they totally went limp.

 This is a park that is crowded on Saturday. You can see that it is almost deserted. People had heavy jackets on too.

 Yes that is a swan boat, just like they have in Boston. And those are TOURISTS in the swan boat being pushed by the wind across the lake.

A lovely little pagoda where we were going to set up camp for our Plein Aire painting afternoon.

The most I accomplished, in a positive vein,  was meeting a new friend, Regina, and being at lake Eola on a Saturday which is something I hardly ever do.

Just to make it worth my while, going to Orlando that is, as it is a good 20 mi. from my house, I went to the art store - Sam Flax and looked at supplies. Bought a few. It's like going to the mall for me. I never escape without at least buying a new brush.

Ended up at the Mall however - ha - which was another bad decision. The Mall on Saturday afternoon is horrendous. Tourists and crowds.  Then it was home -  more aggravation with traffic out to ying yang.

I know this is a journal to document my activities for this course but I have to vent right now. I am home and thankfully I have resources to paint from and have just started my first painting. It's not Plein Aire, but it is as close as I'm going to get today!

Painting attempt....


Florida Highwaymen Landscape Painting
A recent exhibition in Ft. Lauderdale through Nova University

Florida Highwaymen Landscape Painting
A recent exhibition in Ft. Lauderdale through Nova University

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